Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe nursing home on track

The following article was written and reported by Tom Crash, Lakota Country Times correspondent . For more news, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times today. All content © Lakota Country Times.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe nursing home is located near Whiteclay, Nebraska. Photo by Lakota Country Times

Nursing Home on home stretch
Despite obstacles 55,000 sq. ft and 60 bed facility continues
By Tom Crash
LCT Correspondent

WHITECLAY, Neb. – The OST Nursing Home is on track, taking shape at its site south of Whiteclay, taking advantage of the construction season.

"All construction projects have hurdles, you work through them and get the project done," concluded Ron Ross who heads up the management company that manages 23 nursing homes, 20 in Nebraska, two in Iowa and one in Wyoming and will have a 24th when the OST Nursing Home is finished and open for residents.

“Construction was held up for about three months, the new TERO director, Jeff Whalen, decided that the construction company owed 4% in TERO fees, construction was shut down until we worked through this disagreement,” said Kathy Janis, a past council representative from Wounded Knee district and chair of the nursing home board, “we had to dig up the original ordinance and the bottom line was the Shakopee loan agreement did not allow for any TERO fees, we’re back on track now.”

Although many are hoping to have the 55,000 square foot, 60 bed nursing home completed by late fall, Ross feels a more realistic date would be first part of 2016, February or March. When the tribe did their first survey, they found over 400 tribal members in nursing homes across South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota – with that in mind there is an option to add another wing that would hold 20 beds. Ideally, it would be advantageous to find the money for the added wing before the current construction is completed, it’d probably take about $3 million to do it, added Ross.

“The architects did a really good job designing the building, each residence has a window, the multipurpose ceremonial room is awesome, it’s circular and has a kitchen just outside and the storm shelter doubles as a theater,” said Ross, “we’ve advertised for an on-site administrator, most of the 80-100 full time staff will be recruited from 30-60 days from when we know we will open, of course we’d like to hire a head maintenance person a couple of months out as well as the clinical director and a director of nursing a month out – this facility is going to be just what it was designed to be, a tribal nursing home where families are able to come and visit their elders.”

A closeup of the work on the Oglala Sioux Tribe nursing home. Photo from Native American Health Management

“Our board has met twice, we have another meeting in July, we’re reviewing policies and procedures, protocols for admissions,” said Duane Brewer who with Kathy Janis and Leonard Little Finger make up the board. "All of us are excited about the facility, the whole construction was done with the culture in mind.”

“This nursing home has been a long road, we’ve had so many obstacles, so many road bumps, from working it through the council, not just one council but several councils; then we had to get the Shakopee loan package completed and deal with the water and sewer infrastructure, problems just wouldn’t end,” said Janis. “But we’re getting there and it’s going to be a beautiful facility that will serve our elders and their families, I think we’re on the home stretch.”

If you have questions about the on-site administrator, future jobs or admission call Ron Ross at Native American Rural Health 308 697-4975.

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