The Southern Ute Health Center (SUHC) has been under construction for the last few months, with workers moving to complete a brand-new laboratory expanding the footprint of the existing facility. This expansion will replace the existing laboratory within the health center. The project is made possible through a grant the Tribe applied for back in 2020 in response to COVID-19 global pandemic, with this funding the Southern Ute Health Center will soon have a state-of-the-art laboratory.
The COVID-19 Pandemic was declared on March 11, 2020, by the World Health Organization. In response to the pandemic the Southern Ute Indian Tribe applied for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grant. These federal grants helped tribal entities throughout the United States increase their capacity for COVID-19 testing specifically, the grant received by the Tribal Health Department is managed by the State of Colorado and in this project the Tribe is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Construction & Project Management is working in conjunction with and managing this project on behalf of the Southern Ute Tribal Health Department, which is made possible with the assistance and support of the Contract and Grants Division as well as the Property & Facilities Department.
When the project reaches completion the SUHC will have roughly 2,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space– looking ahead to the soon-to-be lab it will feature three collection areas for samples, an exam room, ADA accessible restroom, waiting area and the lab itself will be 600 sq. ft. with brand new equipment. It is noted that Tribal Council has also approved additional funding to update existing equipment the SUHC utilizes, this will ensure that the staff will be able to provide more services in the future which will benefit the Tribe.
In a recent interview with Construction Project Manager, Yumi Johnson and Interim Tribal Health Director, Charles “Lee” Williamson the pair discussed details for the current project funds awarded by the grant and what to look forward to. “We have been able to utilize these funds to replace the existing laboratory in the Health Center,” Johnson said. “Its intended use is for COVID purposes, but also everything else that the existing Health Center is currently running… at the end of the project we should have a state-of-the-art laboratory.”
“Currently we do point of care testing, COVID testing and the like, but any of the blood work that we do currently and most of the urinalysis tests that we do have to be sent out to the lab,” Williamson said. “Once we are up and running, and we become what they would call a moderate complexity lab, then we will be able to do a lot of those tests in house and have results quicker. This will definitely help direct the physicians and the other providers in having more expedient and better patient care.”
During the discussion, Williamson also announced that Lab technicians Angela Romero and Tanisha Figueroa will be completing their Lab Technician Certifications in the fall as part of the grant requirements.
Once completed the membership can expect a more modern facility to have their lab work processed, while getting results sooner. The facility will be available to all existing patients and new patients of the SUHC.