S’Klallam tribe celebrates opening of holistic health center
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has opened a new health center on its government campus – the first tribal-owned and operated health clinic in Kitsap County.
The tribe is hosting a two-day grand opening August 6-7, which will include a barbecue for the tribal community and staff, a blessing ceremony, Governor Jay Inslee and tribal dignitaries, and tours of the facility. Events are closed to the public.
The goal of the health center is to provide comprehensive health services to S’Klallam and other tribal communities in Kitsap County, with the aim of having as many services under one roof as possible while reflecting the TSMP and other tribal cultures. The 22,500 square foot two story facility will provide medical, dental and mental health services in addition to comprehensive services such as nursing, health promotion, addiction treatment and more.
“Our new health center offers convenient access to multiple providers under one roof, which for some in our community eliminates a significant barrier to care, either for themselves or for their family members,” said Jolene Sullivan, director of health services at PGST.
Care options will also include traditions and nature-based and plant-based medicines that the PGST has used for generations.
The first floor of the facility will feature 10 examination rooms and 11 consultation rooms dedicated to primary care and behavioral health, with a separate wing for dental services. The health center will also have limited space for laboratory work and sterilization.
The second floor will be a large community kitchen, group rooms, administrative offices, community outreach services and a staff lounge. There will also be an executive boardroom and balcony named after Rose Purser, a tribal elder, which overlooks the bay connecting the reserve to the tribal ancestral home at Port Gamble.
Many TSMP alumni have been remembered in various areas of the health center, such as Carol DeCoteau, Dorothy George, and Irene Purser, all of whom were among the tribe’s early community health representatives and caregivers.
The health center lobby features a two-story atrium that opens to a landscaped courtyard and two large works of art by PGST master sculptor Joe Ives Sr. The first room, called Whale Rider, hangs above the entry and features a person riding the back of an orca; the second is an ornate mask overlooking the courtyard gates.
The health center will eventually house an outdoor garden that will be used to grow plants used in teas, ointments and PGST foods.
“While health and healing have always been important to S’Klallam culture, this community has a relatively new relationship with modern medicine. For generations, even in the 1970s and 1980s, options were limited due to the lack of off-booking transportation and the few providers that tribe members felt comfortable entrusting with their care, ”said Sullivan.
The first health services that became available for the TSMP came in 1971, when federal funding enabled the tribe to hire a community health representative who provided limited preventive care services and off-booking transportation for the tribe. medical appointments. These appointments were often costly to the point that federal funds were exhausted within a year.
In 1979, the PGST hired Dixie Deeter, a nurse practitioner hired by the National Health Service Corps, marking the beginning of the tribe’s ability to manage its own health care.
The health center has been designated as an emergency center for its northern neighbors Kitsap in the event of a catastrophic event such as an earthquake.
“Currently, with the nearest hospital in Silverdale, residents of North Kitsap do not have access to a facility that can respond to a major emergency. We hope there will never be a need, but in an event like this, we will be ready to open our doors and assist anyone who needs help, ”said Sullivan.