Construction on CIHA’s Long-Term Care campus to start by year’s end

by Mar 18, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments



One Feather Staff


A project a long time in the making is coming to fruition as construction will start on Cherokee Indian Hospital’s new Long-Term Care campus by year’s end.

“We know that the old facility has served a very important purpose in helping elders (and others) in our community,” said Dr. Blythe Winchester, Cherokee Indian Hospital director of geriatric services.  “But, there are disadvantages to its structure/construction and it is outdated. We know that people prefer to be at home, but not everyone can have the luxury of being at home when skilled nursing care is needed – most people need the facility for rehabilitation after a hospital stay from injury, heart attack, or stroke.”

A rendering by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture shows the layout of the project.

Dr. Winchester states of the new project, “The new facility will have a state-of-the-art, much larger beautiful therapy area to really focus on the primary needs of our residents. We will also enhance the Memory Care Unit to support the exploratory nature of those with memory issues. The rooms will be all private, which is how all long-term care facilities should accommodate elders. There will be many more enhancements but I feel that those examples highlight the main areas we are improving.”

Damon Lambert, Cherokee Indian Hospital director of engineering, said, “We are planning to start construction prior to the end of 2022, and we expect construction to last approximately 18 months and be complete in the spring of 2024.”

He said the project, funded by Tribal Council in the amount of $105 million, had its components and the number of rooms associated with each service approved by the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority Governing Board.

“The facility is currently being designed to include 120 resident rooms,” said Lambert.  “This will include 80 skilled nursing beds, 20 Memory Care beds, and 20 Assisted Living beds.  The facility will be broken into six 20-bed households with one nursing station serving each household.”

He added, “The household model will be a large change from the existing Tsali Care facility (which has 72 beds currently) and follows industry-best practices to give the residents a space that is more home-like.”

Lambert said the new facility will include 100 percent private resident rooms.  “Each room will house only one resident and will contain its own private restroom and shower.”

The project is still developing.  “We are still currently in the programming and schematic phase of the project, and the Project Steering Committee will make a determination on the other amenities the facility may offer as we move forward, but the facility will include areas for services such as therapy (physical, speech, etc.), telehealth, community rooms, and outdoor spaces such as pavilions, gardens, and courtyards.”

This project contains some new and some improved facilities.  “The Adult Day Care will be a new service so we are currently performing analysis of the demand for this service within the community and identifying the services and the capacity that it will need to provide.  The Dialysis Center will remain comparable to the current facility.  The Tribe will continue to own the facility and lease it to DaVita Kidney Care to manage and operate the service.”

As with most new projects, some new employment opportunities will be created.  “Staffing efficiency was a priority for the facility,” said Lambert.  “So, we plan for staffing to stay similarly to the existing quantity for the services that currently exist.  However, Adult Day Care and Assisted Living will be entirely new services so there will be additional positions required for these services.  CIHA is currently completing operating analysis that will determine these staffing requirements.”