YKHC celebrates grand opening of Dr. Paul John Calricaraq hospital expansion project

YKHC dtignitaries and special guests participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new Dr. Paul John Calricaraq hospital expansion project in Bethel last Friday. photo by Kelly J. Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

The hardworking leadership of the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation invited all the stakeholders, lenders, politicians, business partners, construction crews, designers, board members, staff, and community members to the grand opening celebration of the Dr. Paul John Calricaraq primary care and hospital expansion project in Bethel. The VIPs in attendance participated in giving speeches and cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

The grand opening event had been postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

It was a momentous occasion to celebrate the completion of the brand new hospital in Bethel – sharing in the vision to bring the project to fruition while focusing on the guiding principles of the Calricaraq Project.

VIPs in attendance included U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska House Representative Lyman Hoffman, former Alaska House Representative Bob Herron, Representatives Tiffany Zulkosky and Bryce Edgmon, staff of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan and Governor Mike Dunleavy; YKHC CEO Dan Winkelman and the Senior Leadership team including Chief Financial Officer Lisa Wimmer, Vice President of Hospital Services Jim Sweeney, and Vice President of Finance Tommy Tompkins; YKHC Board members, and a very special guest – Martina John, the wife of the late Dr. Paul John of Toksook Bay, whose name the project bears. There were also many others representing their organizations, CEO Winkelman had the honor of reading each name at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Performing the welcoming dance and songs were the Nunakauyarmiut Traditional Eskimo Dancers, also of Toksook Bay. Their performance enthralled the guests in the new facility’s Gathering Room.

YKHC Chairman of the Board Walter Jim gave the welcoming address, followed by Traditional Chief of Orutsararmiut Native Council Louie Andrew. Many speeches followed with gifts of appreciation and photos.

“It takes a team for a project like this and we got it done,” said Winkelman. Everyone was proud to be part of the amazing facility and many of the presenters marveled at the end result.

Deanna Latham, YKHC’s Vice President of Support Services told the story of how the project began in 2014 with their joint venture application, which soon turned into submitting the entire plan.

“Every part of the community was reached,” she said – to ensure that the Yukon Kuskokwim’s culture and identity was represented and to promote customer centered care while staying under budget. The ceremony concluded with a reception and gifts.

Quyana, we appreciate your hard work and we are the beneficiaries of your vision which is now a dream come true.