By Joe Morey
Gary Girard, the Lac Courte Oreilles Community Health Center Director, shared information on the new clinic project at the General Membership Meeting held at the Sevenwinds Casino Convention Center, reporting on current staffing and space issues and how they will be solved once the new clinic is complete.
Girard said the new clinic, which will be located near the casino, may see groundbreaking as early as late March/early April of 2023 and would be completed by fall of 2024.
The clinic currently has eight providers and eight nurses on staff but only has 1.4 exam rooms per provider.
“Over the last two years we’ve seen more patients than ever,” Girard explained. “We are in a situation right now that we can’t meet the needs of the community. The building is too small.”
Girard said they have enough staff, but not enough space. Once the new clinic is opened, they’ll double their coverage in the first week because they will have three exam rooms per provider, he stated.
Girard said it’s the same situation in the dental department. The clinic has three dentist’s full time and one part time, but only one exam room per dentist. The new clinic will provide two exam rooms per dentist.
Girard said the clinic currently has more staff than they’ve had in their history.
“We still can’t meet the need. There are over 400 of our tribal members waiting for urgent dental care. This scenario plays out throughout the clinic. We have the staff to provide the service, but we just don’t have the room.”
Girard went on to say, “Our community has outgrown the ability for us to provide adequate care.”
He explained to the Membership that a lot of work has been done on the new clinic project as far as planning and design, and now the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) is working on the financial package to get the project across the finish line.
The facility will be 59,000 square feet, providing adequate space to have all health center programs housed there, which include Behavioral Health, CCS, AODA, the pharmacy and more. The pharmacy will also have a drive-thru.
“It’s going to be a beautiful building,” Girard said. “We’ve incorporated ideas from our Tribal Elders the Health Advisory Board and there’ll be cultural aspects throughout the building.”
Girard said there will Native art décor inside and out. There will be a waterfall and fireplace in the reception area. Also, there will be a healing circle in the center of the building and a giant dreamcatcher.
“I’m very excited about the new clinic,” Girard concluded.