Utah Navajo Health System Inc. (UNHS) held the official groundbreaking ceremony for its new Blanding Health Center last month.
The Blanding Health Center site is on 300 West, across from Blue Mountain Hospital.
Korte Company, the general contractor for the new clinic, began excavation work on the 43,000 square-foot clinic site two weeks ago.
Chris Gilliam, Health Care Division Vice President for Korte Company, explained the site civil work of clearing the ground, laying utility and plumbing lines and other preparations will take about three and a half months.
By July, he said, structural steel will be installed as the building starts taking shape.
During last month’s ceremony, UNHS CEO Michael Jensen welcomed a host of dignitaries from Blanding City, San Juan County and Utah State, as well as UNHS Board members and Blue Mountain Hospital administrators and Board members.
A large crowd gathered beneath a large white tent to hear remarks from various speakers. Following the remarks, a long line of silver-bladed shovels was manned by many of the dignitaries, including Korte Company President Todd Korte. Korte traveled from St. Louis, Missouri for the occasion.
During his remarks, Gilliam praised the people of this area, who have worked to complete the new Montezuma Creek Clinic building.
“Where the pride comes is actually with the people and the contacts we make during the building process,” Gilliam said “No matter where I go, I tell people about the sincere caring you see on the construction site in Montezuma Creek.
“Todd Korte is here today, and I told him, ‘You’re never going to walk another project with the feeling you’re going to get when you walk Montezuma Creek because you can tell that the people building the facility care about each other. And they care about the community they work in. It brings a high level of quality to the project.’
“That’s why I’m excited to have a second opportunity here in Blanding. We will have as many as 300 workers on project. So this is not only about bricks and sticks, but also about working with the community, working with the individuals here to make this a successful project. Korte is extremely humble and extremely proud to be part of this project.”
Gilliam also explained that 30,000 cubic yards of dirt will be moved for the new Blanding project, and 50 miles of electrical wiring will be used.
Dr. Val Jones, the original provider for UNHS when it began in 2000, said he’s excited to participate and work in the new Blanding Health Center.
“Over the years, as I’ve thought about it, the biggest challenge has been being able to see everyone who wants to be seen; to provide that capacity. I’m just amazed at the vision of the people who made all this happen,” Jones stressed, fighting back his emotions.
“[Former CEO] Donna Singer, the current administration and the Board of Directors. I don’t think I’ve had as big a vision as they have. I’ve certainly enjoyed my association with the Board of Directors and getting to know them.
“It’s been a very positive experience in my life. I feel quite lucky to be a part of this medical team. I couldn’t have imagined a more rewarding professional experience.”
UNHS Board of Directors Chairman, Jami Harvey, told the audience the idea of healing has been on his mind a lot. The San Juan River represents healing in Montezuma Creek, and the mountains around Blanding represent healing for the new Blanding Health Center.
“Wherever we (UNHS) go there’s always something there to associate with being healed,” he said.
Harvey also praised the Board of Directors as being an amazing group of visionaries and a dedicated group of leaders and planners. He introduced Board members Robert Whitehorse, Cassandra Beletso, Wilfred Jones, Gloria Begaye and Edward Tapaha and said the group has been together for eighteen years.
“We look forward to providing good services to all the community members that come here, and we hope it will continue to be a place where we heal. I’m grateful for this experience. The creator has given us many blessings and today is another day when we get to witness that,” Harvey added.
UNHS Board Member Gloria Begaye also spoke and talked about the advantages of UNHS being a self-governance, not-for-profit PL638 organization with the ability to step outside the box to set goals and visions for the organization.
“We’re just so proud of our vision and what we’ve accomplished so far,” she said. “I’m grateful for this facility. I’m grateful for the Board members, our staff and administration, and for the contractors. I’m grateful for leaders in Blanding and San Juan County.”
Following the opening remarks, dirt was tossed by UNHS administrators and board members, Blanding City, San Juan County, State of Utah and Korte Company dignitaries.
A nice meal was then served inside the tent for everyone who attended. During his remarks, Jensen thanked all who helped prepare the food and serve those attending the ceremony. He also thanked those who helped put up the tent and provide the nice facility for the event.
“This is a great day,” Jensen added. “We’re going to build a beautiful clinic, with 32 exam rooms, drive thru pharmacy, behavioral health rooms, private get-a- way areas where you can go outside for places of healing, Optometry, a new lab, X-ray facilities and more.
“It’s going to be a real blessing to this community. We’re really excited.”
The new clinic is expected to open in July 2019.