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New Healthcare Facility Set to Break Ground

RAPID CITY – The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board and the Oyate Health Center will host a groundbreaking ceremony for a new facility at 2:00 pm, August 21, 2020, at 3200 Canyon Lake Dr, in Rapid City.

“It is a tremendous honor to stand at the helm of this long overdue update to the facilities that house the health services offered to our people in the Rapid City community. The Oyate Health Center patients have been waiting many, many years for this day,” said Jerilyn Church, CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board.

Currently, the Oyate Health Center sits within what was once the Sioux San Hospital

Original construction at the site began in 1898 when the Rapid City Indian School (or School of the Hills) was erected to assimilate Native American children into western society. The school operated for more than three-decades and closed in 1933. Shortly after the closing of the school, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in South Dakota used the facility as a federally funded work relief program to deal with a struggling US economy.

In 1939, due to the epidemic of tuberculosis in the US, the Sioux Sanitarium was opened to treat Native American patients. Treatment for TB patients was very crude and experimental, and most patients who received treatment there passed away from the virus.

In 1955, the Indian Health Service (IHS) took administrative jurisdiction over Sioux San. The hospital building was later remodeled and became the Rapid City Indian Health Service Hospital. In the years following, Congress appropriated funds for the pilot IHS Clinic in Rapid City.

While the history of the Sioux San campus is quite complex, only minor updates have added to the physical structure of the building since its original construction. The new facility will mark a significant advancement in care for tribal citizens as services will now be offered in a state-of-the-art healthcare facility.

According to Jerilyn Church, CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, the groundbreaking ceremony set for August 21 is a sign of the positive changes in tribal healthcare in Rapid City. 

“The last year has been filled with many successes and many lessons learned along the way. The growth we have experienced is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and flexibility of our staff and those we serve as we moved forward with this endeavor. This ceremony is the culmination of those efforts and a stepping-stone towards a brighter and more equitable future,” said Church.   

It is of utmost importance that the safety of our staff, guests, and community be prioritized during this event. Social distancing, masks, sanitizing, and other CDC recommended safety measures will be followed closely.  

Guests include tribal leaders, city and state officials, community members, and representatives of the Indian Health Service.

The groundbreaking ceremony will be held behind urgent care. For those who do not wish to attend in person, the event will be available live on the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board’s Facebook page.  

If you have any further questions and to RSVP, please don’t hesitate to contact Cole Hunter at [email protected] or 605-721-1922 Ext. 116. 

For media, inquiries contact Brandon Ecoffey at [email protected].