WASHINGTON, DC – (RealEstateRama) — The Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held an oversight hearing exploring ways to improve infrastructure in tribal and insular communities.
“Quality infrastructure boosts economic development, creates jobs, and quality of life increases. Nowhere is this more important than tribal and insular communities. There is however, a great need in tribal communities, especially with tribal healthcare infrastructure,” Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) provides healthcare to 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives and there are approximately 650 IHS and Tribal health facilities nationally. Whereas the average age of most hospitals throughout the U.S. is approximately 10 years, IHS facilities on average are 40 years old and the cost to complete the grandfathered priority list stands at $2 billion.
“At the current appropriation levels for facility construction, if a new facility were built today, it would not be replaced for another 400 years,” Lamalfa added.
Victoria Kitcheyan, Great Plains Area representative for the National Indian Health Board outlined real-life horror stories at IHS discovered by the Office of the Inspector General.
“[S]ome facilities have been cited for sewage leaking into an operating room and equipment that is no longer suited for a modern medical environment. […] The sterilization machine had been broken and medical staff were washing surgical instruments by hand,” Kitcheyan said.
Reports to Congress note that IHS facilities only meets about 52% of the need. Andy Teuber, Chairman and President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, asked for creative policy changes to antiquated health care infrastructure in tribal communities.
“It is clear that additional support and policy changes are needed to address the sagging Indian health care infrastructure,” Teuber stated.
Infrastructure needs in Indian Country, Alaska Native and insular communities stretch beyond healthcare to capital improvement projects, water and sewage services and education.
Click here to read full witness testimony.