By Joe Morey
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board recently announced it is applying for Joint Venture Funding through the Indian Health Service (IHS) to have a new health and wellness center’s operations funded for 20 years.
LCO TGB member and liaison to the health center, Rose Gokee, said if the tribe is funded for the new facility, “It will cover 20 years of operational expenses and the health center would continue to receive its annual IHS funding.”
Jason Weaver, LCO Secretary-Treasurer, said land needs to be designated for the new facility before the funding will get approved. He said acreage has been set aside on the Northeast corner at the junction of Hwy B and K, across from the casino.
“The land must be designated early in the process to show commitment from the Tribe, but we can always move the designated location if the Membership wishes for a different spot. I just want to remind everyone that we need it to be located on the new waste water system and hopefully on the water system,” said Weaver.
A preliminary site plan for what the new health and wellness center and a grocery store on this property is available to view at the Tribal office, Weaver added. “This is just a simple site plan that can change as quickly as we need it to but it is a great tool for reference.
Weaver also said the plan could take three to five years for completion, depending on what the community would like to have in the new facility.
“We are meeting with a group from the Shakopee community on January 16th to work out a plan. They have been successful at helping 5 other tribes open new clinics under this program,” Weaver said. “We need to have a community survey and meetings to let the tribal members have a say on where to put the new health and wellness center as well as what services should be provided. I think we all want to see assisted living and a nursing home on the Reservation at some point.”
Gokee added, “It is envisioned that the new health center would offer expanded health services to the community as well as a wellness facility to combat health issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart conditions and promote overall physical health.”
Gokee said she recently attended the Indian Health Services Budget Formulation meeting at Oneida and tribes were informed that it is unknown if the Joint Venture funding will be available after 2019.
The tribal governing board will host a meeting in January to gain a better understanding of the application process and funding needed to make the project a reality, Gokee said.