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‘Continuing to Move Forward’: Tanana Chiefs’ Newest Clinic, in Tok, to Open This Summer

Tanana Chiefs Conference

Work is well under way on the Tanana Chiefs Conference’s newest clinic in Tok, which is scheduled to open this summer. It’s the latest of several health-care facilities the organization is building around its region to improve delivery of health care to outlying communities.

Tanana Chiefs Conference board Chairman Victor Joseph says work on the 16,000-square-foot clinic in Tok has continued through the winter and is now picking up so the project can be completed on schedule by September.

“We’re going to be putting on the roof in February,” he said, “and then landscaping, sidewalks and outside paving starting in May.”

When the project is done, the new clinic will provide more of the services that Tanana Chiefs has been providing to the Tok area for the past several years. That includes emergency services and more routine types of care.

“We’re going to be expanding dental and behavioral health,” he said, “and then of course we’re going to have our normal medical-clinic services.”

Joseph says Tanana Chiefs is still trying to figure out how to provide pharmacy services at the clinic, which people in that part of the Upper Tanana have long wanted in their communities. But he says in the meanwhile, the new clinic will have more facilities to offer better care than the old clinic that the organization had operated over the past several years.

“Everything is going to be located in one facility,” he said. “And it’s going to be more welcoming, we’re going to have state-of-the-art equipment that’s necessary to function at the highest capacity. And it’s going to be supported by a great organization.”

Credit Tanana Chiefs Conference
The new clinic floor plan shows space for emergency and routine health care, including dental and behavioral health, and possibly a pharmacy. “Everything is going to be located in one facility," says Tanana Chiefs board chairman Victor Joseph.

The Tok clinic will be the newest of 28 health care facilities the Tanana Chiefs has built to provide better care for the residents of its enormous health-care service area, which is bigger than California. The task is more challenging in some communities that lack infrastructure, like in Circle, where the organization completed work last year on a new clinic.

“They weren’t even hooked-up to run water or sewer, until we were able to get a new clinic in there,” he said.

In addition to the Tok clinic, Tanana Chiefs also is building a new facility in Manley. Joseph says next year, the organization hopes to begin work on a new clinic in Evansville, and he says it’s considering building another in Northway within the next couple of years.

“We’re just continuing to move forward and trying to make sure that we have a strong system of care here – not only for people here in Fairbanks but throughout our service region.”

Joseph says Tanana Chiefs’ midsize so-called subregional clinics like the one in Tok work with smaller village clinics and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center in Fairbanks. He says Tanana Chiefs designs its health-care facilities to accommodate population growth. And that’s why it’ll begin work this summer on an expansion project that will double the size of the Isaac Health Center’s facilities. The estimated $50 million project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.