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Rapid City mayor supports new Native American health center

September 25, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender is backing efforts by the Oglala, Cheyenne River and Rosebud Sioux tribes to build a new Native American health care center in the city.

Allender recently sent a letter to the Rapid City Council seeking support for a proposed health care facility for tribal members, the Rapid City Journal reported. Members of the Legal and Finance Committee will consider a resolution on Wednesday involving the relocation and construction of a new facility north of Western Dakota Technical Institute.

Tribal leaders and federal Indian Health Service officials were initially planning to demolish most of the Sioux San Hospital and replace it with a $117 million clinic.

Allender criticized the Indian Health Service’s administration of the Sioux San Hospital, which recently closed its emergency wing and has failed in recent years to meet standards of care imposed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It is beyond time to get this done,” Allender said.

The mayor noted that the resolution’s proposed location is more accessible than Sioux San Hospital because of its proximity to the interstate, main city streets and the institute, which could lead to collaboration for hospital staffing. He noted that the location also benefits from access to bus routes, housing, employers and shopping centers.

“Relocating the new facility will not only improve access to health care for American Indians who utilize Sioux San but will also contribute to the economic engine in Rapid City,” said Jerilyn Church, CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board.

The three tribes are invoking a federal law that could transfer the administration of Sioux San and the new facility to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, while the project is considered by city, state and federal officials.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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