Native Community Leaders hold meeting on new IHS hospital

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Native American community leaders and public health coordinators are looking to work with the public on building a new Indian Health Service hospital in Rapid City.

The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB) held a public meeting at the Ramkota Saturday where they answered questions from the community. Currently, three South Dakota tribes are working to build a new hospital on a donated plot of land east of Rapid City, costing around $117 million. The land has been dubbed the “Shepherd Hill” site.

Supporters say it can expand health opportunities for Rapid City’s Native American community and can drive younger generations to go into health care. Because of the proposed hospital’s close proximity to Western Dakota Technical Institute, GPTCHB hopes more young Native Americans will enroll and study health-related fields.

Some community members, however, expressed frustration with the process, saying there weren’t enough opportunities for public input before major decisions were made about the hospital. They also contend that the facilities at Sioux San should be fixed up instead.

At the meeting, Richard Greenwald, an Oglala Sioux Tribe councilman, said that the main focus is now working with the community to better public health. He also said that people should be involved in the process in what the hospital will look like, how it will function, and even what it will be named.

“We want our community here in Rapid City to be involved in all of that,” said Greenwald.

He says it’s important to get out and make sure the “community here in Rapid City is aware of all these things so they have input.”

If and when the new hospital is built, there are two options for Sioux San. It could become a historically preserved site, or it could be torn down and repurposed.

The GPTCHB says the new hospital is expected to be completed by 2021.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News