More than 70 people gathered Friday for the grand opening ceremony for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Health Center.
The program included a prayer, blessing, prayer song, honoring of those involved and an honor song.
“We’re excited to provide that quality health care that our community needs,” tribal president Tony Reider said in opening remarks. “There have been quite a few people able to use the facility so far.”
A prayer and blessing were offered by Dustin Beaulieu. The drummers of Wakpa Ipaksan Hoksidan offered a prayer song and an honor song.
Honored and presented with star quilts were Fred Assam, who provided legal counsel; Randy Wagner and Brian Glaseman of DSGW Architects; and Chris Johnson and James McMahon of contractor Henry Carlson.
Also honored but not present were John Banks of D.A. Davidson, Steven Likes of Kutak Rock and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota Community Business Council.
Among those introduced at the ceremony was the new chief medical officer, Dr. William Arban.
“I have been in practice for two decades and I am very happy to continue my career here,” Arban said.
Also introduced was Steve Emery, South Dakota’s Secretary of Tribal Relations. After the ceremony, Emery said the new clinic “will be great for the community, not only the tribe, but the entire community.”
Emery said other tribes would do well to see what has been accomplished in Flandreau.
“I would like to see it emulated elsewhere,” Emery said.
After the ceremony, tours were available and many more interested people took part.
According to Reider, the tribe funded the $13 million, 38,000 square foot facility. The Shakopee Council provided some grants for equipment and the tribe was able to restructure its contract with Indian Health Services.
Now that the grand opening is behind her, clinic administrator Leah Fyten said she would begin interviews to add more staff. She said the clinic currently has a staff of about 40 while the facility is designed for a staff of 88.
“It should benefit the whole community with that many new faces in town,” Reider said.
Tribal attorney Seth Pearman said the recently opened clinic has already been busy.
“We’re already seeing increased numbers from people coming in,” Pearman said. “We think that will continue as the Native American populations in Sioux Falls and Brookings get word of our new facility.”