March 12, 2010

President’s budget includes Elbowoods

President’s budget includes Elbowoods
$8.3 million to be funded through Indian Health Service

An increase of $8.3 million is expected to be coming to the Elbowoods Memorial Rural Healthcare facility when Congress approves President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget later this year.
Already submitted to Congress in the president’s new budget, the $8.3 million is an annual fund that is expected to meet payroll for additional doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, emergency medical technicians and support staff.
“We are certainly pleased we got this funding,” said Elbowoods project manager Jim Foote. “It’s re-occurring so once it’s into the federal budget, it keeps coming.”
Ground was broken in New Town late last summer for the 36,000 square-foot health care facility that is expected to be completed by August 2011.
That means the clock is ticking and recruitment efforts will have to be stepped up. Facility administrator Stella Berquist didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment on that effort.
Elbowoods will employ up to a total of 132 people that will include 88 new positions to go along with 44 presently employed at Minne-Tohe Clinic.
Foote said this funding is perhaps more significant than the facility itself for a couple of reasons.
First, he said it took a lot of negotiations on the part of numerous Three Affiliated Tribes representatives including North Segment representative Scott Eagle and Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Marcus Levings.
The team met numerous times with Indian Health Service representatives in Washington, D.C., before finally convincing IHS to add the funding into the budget.
Second, Foote said third party funding is being used to make payroll for some of the staff at Minne-Tohe and this additional funding will eliminate that method.
Interestingly, Foote said the project has not been without it’s typical bureaucratic red tape. Because it was the Army Corps of Engineers that essentially destroyed the original Elbowoods hospital and promised a new one, the funding was earmarked for the new Elbowoods through IHS paid by the Corps.

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