PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has started construction on a new $55 million health center.
The new 178,000 square foot facility will feature a variety of amenities including 20-bed in-patient department, 36-room outpatient department and six treatment rooms.
"Our tribe has changed dramatically over the years and the needs of our people have evolved as our tribe has grown," Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said at Monday's groundbreaking.
Construction is expected to be complete by winter of 2014.
"Bringing this forward not only provides a health care facility for our tribal members, but it gives them an opportunity to come in and make a healthier lifestyle," Anderson said.
The tribe's current health center opened back in 1976 and was only designed to treat 4,000 people, which was the population of the tribe back at that time.
Over 35 years later, the tribe as grown to over 10,000 people, and Anderson said by having the latest medical technology available, the facility will help promote a healthier lifestyle among the Choctaws.
Acting Health Director Tina Scott said the tribe is looking "to bring specialty clinics to the new facility, maybe a cardiologist, some of those specialty areas that we don't currently have in our facility right now and we're having to refer out, so that's going to be an expansion on our part."
Anderson said about 1 in 5 of the tribal members have diabetes, and there are several other health problems that affect a good portion of the population. She hopes this center will improve the overall welfare of the community.