Coeur d’Alene tribe to build medical center
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has netted an $11.8 million federal grant to help build a new medical clinic in Plummer, Idaho.
Construction will begin next year with plans to open the new Benewah Medical Center in autumn 2012. It will replace the existing clinic built 20 years ago that serves both tribal members and non-tribal members in the rural community south of Coeur d’Alene.
The medical center employs 122 people and serves 6,500 patients, said tribal spokesman Marc Stewart.
He said the federal grant will be paired with $3 million from the tribe and another $2.5 million from the medical center to fund the new 47,000-square-foot building. It will be built about a mile from the existing facility on a six-acre field owned by the tribe.
The new clinic will house a multitude of services, including health and dental care, counseling, a larger pharmacy and perhaps one day a dialysis center.
Chief Allan, tribe chairman, said the money and new clinic will serve an increasing number of patients.
“We are extremely pleased because this grant will make a big difference in people’s lives,” he said in a press release issued Friday afternoon.
The federal money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which gave awards totaling $727 million to 143 community health centers across the country.
The tribe built the first clinic as a community resource after recognizing that tribal members, as well as other rural residents, were underserved. It was the first tribal clinic in the country to open its doors to nonmembers, Stewart said.
“Farmers, loggers and tribal members were all in the same boat,” he said.
When the clinic first opened in 1990 it had eight employees and one doctor.
It has expanded several times, but services were scattered.
The new medical center will tie everything together, Stewart said.