Pawnee Nation to build $19 million health center


Tuesday, July 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) _ The Pawnee Nation plans to build a $19 million Indian health center by the end of 2003, tribal officials said.

The 67,000-square-foot center, which will replace the tribe's 1928 hospital, will be the largest outpatient health center in Oklahoma.

``We always had ideas for these projects, but when it came to the dollars, they just evaporated for one reason or another,'' said Pawnee Nation President Robert Chapman. ``The government has really relaxed its rules and allowed the federal agencies to open their doors and help tribes in the area of economic development.''

Funding for the health center, being built by Flintco Construction, will come from the Indian Health Service. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs will pay for part of the access road for the project.

The health center is expected to employ 140 more people than the old hospital. New services will include physical therapy and ultrasound in the diagnostic imaging department.

Chapman said tribal leaders have not decided what will happen to the old hospital.

The Pawnee Nation also plans to build a small power innovator plant, which could supply power to the health center.

Another project is a travel plaza employing 20 to 30 people at State Highway 18 and the Cimarron Turnpike. A U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant and secondary funding from the Bank of America are paying for that project.

The nation is considering building a gaming facility next to the travel plaza, Chapman said.

``We've been looking at that for a number of years,'' he said. ``We're looking at putting them near each other so one can complement the other.''

Other tribal projects include an information technology center on the tribal reserve, a fitness center and an equestrian arena.