TCRHCC awarded $2.5 million for hospital life-safety repairs

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) was recently awarded $2.5 million by the Indian Health Service (IHS) to fix two critical structural problems at the IHS hospital in Tuba City.

John Hubbard Jr., Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) Director, sent a letter received on Nov. 2 to TCRHCC that outlined the award of additional end of fiscal year stimulus dollars.

In February, The Joint Commission (TJC) facility pre-audit discovered that Tuba City Hospital's ceiling design, which was outlawed in 1967 because it did not meet federal regulations for infectious disease transmission, posed an imminent life-safety hazard that threatened patient health.

The audit also found that the structural steel within the crawl space under the hospital did not have sufficient fire protection coating as required by law.

Grey Farrell Jr., TCRHCC Board of Directors president said, "We are pleased that the NAIHS is in the unique position at this time to assist the TCRHCC in resolving the life-safety issues identified in the Hospital building audit."

Since discovering these structural problems at the hospital, TCRHCC has worked diligently to try to access federal funding to make the necessary repairs. TCRHCC asked Congress for funds to fix this problem through both Fiscal Year 2010 earmarks and stimulus funds. Both requests were denied.

In April, TCRHCC representatives met with IHS officials at the IHS headquarters in Rockville, Md. to discuss these issues. TCRHCC also contacted the White House tribal liaison seeking help to fix these problems.

Joseph Engelken, TCRHCC Chief Executive Office, said, "We appreciate the IHS work to verify and to support correction of these defects. This will only increase both patients and employee safety, which is vital to quality health care."

TCRHCC operates the Tuba City Hospital under a Public Law 93-638 self governance contract. The hospital is located in Coconino County, on the Navajo reservation and serves over 75,000 Navajos from the western portion of the Navajo Reservation.

"Now we look forward to quickly getting these repairs done," said Tim Newland, Safety Officer for TCRHCC.

The hospital board and staff wish to thank the following groups and individuals for their support: Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick; Senator Jon Kyl; Navajo Nation Council Delegates Evelyn Acothley and Thomas Walker Jr., Navajo Nation Council Health and Social Services Committee members; Navajo Nation Vice-President Ben Shelly; and Jodi Gillette of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

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