By Reba Lean
Norton Sound Health Corporation 

New health clinic opens in Shishmaref


October 1, 2021 | View PDF

Photo courtesy Norton Sound Health Corporation

Shishmaref residents arrived by four-wheeler and on foot to gather outside the new clinic for a ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 10.

A new 5,400-square-foot clinic is open and operating in Shishmaref after about 16 months of construction amidst a pandemic.

On Sept. 10, Norton Sound Health Corporation hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new clinic and welcomed the community to celebrate the new building. Residents enjoyed cake and refreshments and socially distanced tours through the new space.

The new facility replaced a clinic that was originally built in 1983 and renovated in 2014. It was only 1,850 square feet.

"In 2014, we renovated the old clinic, and we were so excited when that project was done," NSHC President/CEO Angie Gorn told the Shishmaref crowd on Friday. "But I remember coming to one of your annual meetings, and we heard loud and clear from your community that you needed a much bigger clinic."

The new space boasts three exam rooms, a laboratory/pharmacy space, trauma bay, specialty clinic exam room, large dental suite, an office for the village-based counselor, an employee break room and conference room, as well as additional office space for clinic staff members. The clinic design is the same used in the Savoonga and Gambell clinics, which opened in 2017.

Preston Rookok, NSHC Board Chair, made some opening remarks during the ceremony as well.

"Building state-of-the-art facilities in our communities is a vision of the board," he said. "We know that the community waited a very long time for a new clinic, and this dream has become a reality today."

Photo courtesy Norton Sound Health Corporation

Shishmaref Mayor Howard Weyiouanna, Elizabeth Nayokpuk, NSHC Board Chair Preston Rookok, NSHC Shishmaref Director Mollie Ningeulook, and NSHC Executive Committee Member Matilda Hardy celebrate the moment the ribbon is cut to the new Shishmaref clinic on Friday, Sept. 10.

Rookok noted that Shishmaref's new facility is the fifth clinic NSHC has built in five years. A clinic in St. Michael is currently under construction, and construction is expected to begin on the new Wales clinic next summer.

The Shishmaref project did see some impacts due to COVID-19 when construction crews were required to quarantine before working. The building was built by Paug-Vik Development Corporation, an Anchorage-based company. The entire project cost $8.6 million, which includes a $300,000 increase due to COVID-19 costs. Of that total, $2 million of the project was funded by an Indian Health Service Small Ambulatory Clinic grant.

The new Shishmaref clinic opened its doors to patients on Aug. 30. With its ribbon cutting celebration out of the way, the clinic's staff is ready to stretch out and get comfortable while taking care of needed health services in the community.

Reba Lean is the Norton Sound Health Corporation Public Relations Manager.


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