Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye greets representatives from the Indian Health Service on Thursday before the dedication ceremony at the new housing complex in Crownpoint.
Published June 30, 2018
CROWNPOINT, N.M. — A new housing complex for Indian Health Service employees promises to jumpstart recruitment and retainment efforts at the Crownpoint Health Care Facility and increase the overall quality of life on the Navajo Nation, President Russell Begaye said during a dedication ceremony for Nizhoni Bluffs Apartments.
Construction of the 19-unit apartment complex, located just north of the hospital, took about a year to complete. President Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez attended the dedication ceremony Thursday and toured the apartment building, which sports the same luxury design and state-of-the-art efficiency as the new IHS housing units in Kayenta and Chinle.
Better housing options boost the Navajo Nation’s ability to recruit high-quality healthcare professionals, which in turn increases the quality of healthcare available at IHS facilities and the standard of living for the Navajo people. The new complex also has the potential to spur additional economic development in Crownpoint, President Begaye said.
“In healthcare facilities across Navajo, we have a 30-percent vacancy rate for professional staff, including medical doctors, nurses and technicians,” President Begaye said. “The No. 1 reason is that we don’t have this type of building on the Nation. We need more of these. We want doctors to walk in to these buildings at the end of the day and feel at home.”
Donald Taylor, president of Greenberg Construction, gives Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye a tour of the new IHS housing complex.
Thursday’s dedication kicked off with a blessing ceremony inside the new apartment complex. The 20,000-square-foot building includes eight efficiency units, eight two-bedroom units, two units with two bedrooms and one unit designed with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The $5 million facility, designed and built by Greenberg Construction and Tigua Construction, was funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Nonrecurring Expenses Fund. It took grassroots efforts from the Crownpoint community to get the project off the ground, said Capt. Brian Johnson, acting director of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service.
The IHS actively treats 244,000 patients on the Navajo Nation, Johnson said. The Crownpoint facility serves about 20,000.
“When you think about what the Navajo Nation needs, the big things are healthcare and infrastructure,” he said. “With a facility like this housing complex, the folks on the ground are the heroes. They had the vision to tap into federal funding. They understood that this is about people’s health, people’s lives.”
Vice President Nez also commended community members for having a vision and bringing it to fruition. The foundation of the new facility is built from spirituality and prayer, he said.
“Local planning goes a long way,” he said. “When I look at this facility here, this building is the outcome of both prayer and planning.”
The Crownpoint Chapter’s Community-Based Land Use Plan (CBLUP) was recently recertified, outlining community and economic development plans for the future. Those plans include a wellness center, a youth center and a convenience store with a laundromat—and that’s just the beginning, Vice President Nez said.
“With this kind of community planning, I can see how Crownpoint could be a destination for Navajos and for visitors,” he said. “We want these buildings to lead to other developments, to restaurants and movie theaters and hotels. This is about quality of life.”