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Arctic Slope Native Association Prepares to Open New Hospital with a Ceremonial Celebration


Barrow, Alaska, August 21, 2013 – The Arctic Slope Native Association (ASNA) is hosting a ceremonial celebration on Thursday, August 22, 2013 to commemorate the upcoming opening of the new Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital.  ASNA, in partnership with the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Denali Commission invested over $160 million in both design and construction of the newly built hospital.

The 109,000 square foot new hospital is a much needed and welcome expansion for the North Slope Community. The new facility will provide North Slope residents with additional exam and dental operatory rooms, increased specialty care clinics, and an expanded pharmacy.   New services will also be offered including physical therapy, CT scan, and an eye clinic.

Additionally, over 50 new jobs have been created within the last eight months and it’s estimated that 30 more will become available as the hospital opens for service and becomes fully staffed. Doors are scheduled to open the last week of September of this year.

ASNA constructed the new hospital through a joint venture contract with local construction companies UIC Construction and SKW/Eskimos, Inc. subsidiaries of Ukpeań°vik Iñupiat Corporation and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, respectively. 

Marie Carroll, President/CEO of ASNA said “the hospital has been a long-term goal of the ASNA Board of Directors and it will meet many of the healthcare needs of our region.” Moreover, Carroll shared that the old hospital, built in 1963 at 25,000 square feet, was becoming so crowded that closets were being turned into offices and 2-3 people were often sharing one small office space within a department. Additional room in the new hospital also means more space for families to comfortably visit loved ones during their time of celebration or their time of grief.  “Community involvement was done at the very outset and throughout the design of the project,” remarked Carroll, “we traveled to the villages and asked our community what they needed from their healthcare facility.”

Bernice Kaigelak of Nuiqsut, ASNA’s Board Chair, added that she is very excited about the new technology available in the new hospital. With electronic health records and advanced equipment, patient files are now more easily shareable and providers will have more tools available to provide services via telemedicine.  “We have increased our technological imprint within village clinics, enabling patient files and information to be shared between community health aides and physicians,” said Kaigelak, adding “though we are excited about the physical space, we are equally excited about the increased capacity to provide services within the surrounding villages.  

Barrow is located at the very northern point of Alaska and SSMH is the only hospital and critical access facility within the northern region of Alaska.  Access to the six villages served by SSMH is primarily by air and no roads connect.

Originally formed in 1966, ASNA is a tribal healthcare nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the well-being of the people of the Arctic Slope.

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