The construction of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Dena’ina Wellness Center remains on schedule for completion next winter.
The 52,000 square-foot facility will provide integrated personal care to include medical, dental, behavioral health, optometry, chemical dependency, physical therapy, lab and X-ray, pharmacy and traditional healing services.
“This facility will allow us to return to a system of care that creates a partnership between provider and individuals seeking care with a goal of optimum wellness,” said Kenaitze’s Executive Director and CIRI shareholder Jaylene Peterson-Nyren.
Kenaitze is collaborating with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Southcentral Foundation (SCF) and others to design the Center’s programs and services in order to develop a model for wellness. Kenaitze is also partnering with SCF’s Family Wellness Warriors Initiative to develop a Tribal model of the program for the Kenai area.
Constructing the Dena’ina Wellness Center has been a top priority for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe for the past 15 years, with planning taking place during the past 40 years. Kenaitze is responsible for the social welfare of its 1,430 Tribal members and serves Alaska Native/American Indian residents of the central Kenai Peninsula communities and surrounding areas stretching approximately 15,000 square miles. Kenaitze also provides general counseling and behavioral health services to an increasing number of non-tribal recipients.
The Dena’ina Wellness Center is one of three projects nationwide selected by the Indian Health Service (IHS) for a Joint Venture award in 2011. IHS will provide funding for its operation and maintenance for a minimum of 20 years.
In addition to providing high-quality services, the new Dena’ina Wellness Center will serve as a strong community partner, benefiting Kenai and the surrounding area. State of Alaska-sponsored programs, including Community Behavioral Health Services, will be open to the public. The Center is anticipated to create 50 new jobs in the first year of operation.
The community and state-wide support was reflected in the groundbreaking ceremony August 2012 where more than 200 people attended. The groundbreaking took place at the original village site in Old Town at the mouth of the Kenai River.
The Dena’ina word “Naqantughedul,” meaning “the tide is coming back in,” was spoken at the ceremony. According to Peterson-Nyren, “This is symbolic as we return to Old Town and come back to one of the original village sites to reclaim our status as the first people of this land.”
To learn more about the Dena’ina Wellness Center and eligibility requirements, visit Kenaitze’s website at www.kenaitze.org.