Health center talks modular plans

The new health center modular will be located south of the Southern Ute Health Center, next to the Mouache building.
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum

In the midst of new establishments erecting in the tribe, the Southern Ute Health Center can add another development to the list as plans for a new medical building progresses. The new modular is expected to open the week of May 12 and will feature a broader expansion of the dental and optometry department provided by the health center.

Kaylor Shemberger, director of the health department, commented on how plans for the modular surfaced and what tribal members can expect once the building is complete.

“We created a short-term plan between what we have today and the future of a new structure,” he said. “The plan calls to bring in a 4,000 square foot modular building that’s being developed. In that modular, we will be moving the dental program and the optical program.”

Shemberger discussed how space issues in the health center led to the development of the modular.

“The new modular was conceived as a short-term plan to address space problems that currently exist at the clinic,” Shemberger said. “We were experiencing difficulty getting patients through the process of scheduling appointments or to see a provider in a timely fashion. So we took a look at what our options were and concluded that we needed to move the dental program and the optical program out of the clinic and free up that space to add more exam rooms.”

According to Shemberger, the dental and optical departments have also suffered from a lack of space. He declared that moving the two departments to the modular would resolve that issue.

“The current dental facility only has three exam rooms,” he said. “There aren’t enough dental chairs to have more than one dentist working at a time. We were limited by the number of patients we could see, and what we saw were people having to wait a long time for an appointment.”

Shemberger stated that the new modular would result with more appointment times for patients and less waiting time.

“In the new dental department, we’re going to have five dental chairs,” he said. “This will allow us to have additional dentists to see patients as well as adding a hygienist on the staff.”

Shemberger noted that having a hygienist on staff will be a major feature for health services.

“Dental hygiene is extremely important for a persons overall health,” he said. “Having good hygiene and a good program for patients is extremely important for their dental health.”

In addition to the dental department, patients can expect a newly developed optometry department included with the modular.

“We are going to move [optometry services] into the new modular building, and we will have a separate display room for glassware provided for the tribal members,” Shemberger said. “In addition, we’re going to have more space to expand the number of days the optometrist can see patients and have a separate testing room. We can provide anything that they want in terms of eyeglass frames at a much cheaper cost. Having a bigger facility is a benefit.”

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