The Toiyabe Indian Health Project has plans to expand its clinic by building a new 55,000 sqaure-foot facility on See Vee Lane in Bishop. The idea has been in the works for more than a year and is awaiting the approval of a loan from the United States Deaprtment of Agriculture. The estimated price for the project is approximately $16.5 million.
Currently the site on Tu Su is a scattering of buildings and trailers. The new facility will house all the services currently offered at the Tu Su Lane site, such as medical, dental, optical and preventitive and outreach programs, but all under one roof. The Dialysis Center, recently installed with expansive and not-easy-to-move equipment, will stay on Tu Su.
Toiyabe Executive Director David Lent and its Cheif Operations Officer Libby Watanabe explained some of the project’s details on Wednesday Toiyabe has applied for a USDA Rural Development Program loan that would provide funding for the bulk of the program.
Lent expalined this is the second round in the application process, after Toiyabe successfully completed an initial application, the USDA then asked Toiyabe to submit a comprehensive formal application. Lent said that while the loan is not a sure thing, historically the USDA will not request a formal application unless it plans on approving the loan. There is no timeline on when word will come from USDA. Once the money is secured, Lent explained, designs will be finished and construction will begin.
Toiyabe will spend money on the project as supported by seven recognized tribes Toiyabe serves, including the Bridgeport Indian Reservation, Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe (Benton), Bishop Paiute Tribe, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley, Fort Independence Indian Reservation, Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation, and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe (Death Valley). Toiyabe may apply for an Indian Community Development Block Grant Program, part of the Housing and Urban Development group, depending on tribal approval to apply for the designated grants.
Currently Toiyabe serves both Tribal and non-Tribal residents. Watanabe said a market and feasibility study was done for the project, looking at sevices offered and future and current demands of the community. There is a need to expand, according to the results of the study.
Toiyabe has been communicating with the other healthcare provider in town, Northern Inyo Hospital (NIH). Lent said there have been ongoing discussions between Toiyabe and NIH for more than a year, about “What can we do for each other?” The two are working on how to best offer services to the comunity with the current and new facility.
Lent gave what details are available from the rough design sketches he has, which are about 50 percent complete. The new facility will be two, one-story buildings with a common waiting room/space connecting them. The facility will house many programs Toiyabe now offers; in addition to medical and dental services, it also offers drug and alcohol treatment programs, mental health services, Healthy Heart and nutrition programs, community wellness, and some Elders programs.
The expansion will have room to expand even more, with 10,000 square-feet of space open for future, yet-unforeseen programs. There is also expansion available for the cyber realm, Lent explained, as the new building will be ready for the addititon of cables and wires to accomodate the future of medicine that will undoubtedly involve an increase of electronic and Internet-based tools.
The buildings at the old site on Tu Su have been leased from the Bishop Paiute Tribe and will revert back to its hands post-construction completion.
Watanabe said the project has been well recieved by the seven Tribes and the community. “We’re looking forward to this exciting new project.”