A Grand Opening ceremony was held in Montezuma Creek on June 1 to give the public a preview of the new UNHS Montezuma Creek Clinic, scheduled to open on July 27.
UNHS officials estimate 500 people attended the ceremony, which included talks and an official ribbon-cutting, a free luncheon and tours of the building itself. UNHS CEO Michael Jen-sen noted construction on the building was two weeks behind schedule at the time. He said the reason for the delay was trouble getting utilities up and running. However, he explained, the utilities were fully installed shortly after the grand opening and work on the building was moving along at a pace that will allow it to open, and be fully functional, by July 27.
UNHS Board Chairman, Jami Harvey, conducted the program for the Grand Opening, which was mostly done in the Navajo Language. He recognized the other members of the UNHS Board of Directors and past Charimen of the Board who preceded him, including Manuel Morgan, Wilfred Jones and Robert Whitehorse. Jones and Whitehorse are still members of the Board. Dr. Phil Smith, who practices at the UNHS Monument Valley Community Health Center, stepped in at the last moment to speak in place of Navajo Nation Tribal Delegate Jonathan Hale.
During the program, Harvey unveiled a large painting by Aneth artist Benton Keith that will be on display inside the clinic. The painting has four panels with scenes depicting historic events from the Montezuma Creek/Aneth area that tell the story of Montezuma Creek in the early days.
Former UNHS CEO Donna Singer attended the ceremony and spoke to those in attendance. Singer recounted some of the events that helped shape the growth and direction of UNHS over the past eighteen years. She noted that the services UNHS has added over the years have made healthcare better and more available to residents on the Utah Portion of the Navajo Reservation and all of San Juan County. These services allow patients to stay close to home for treatment of many ailments that previously required time, money and travel to other areas for treatment. She said it took a long time to get to this point and the building of a two-story modern clinic with unique state-of-the-art medical facilities.
“You are all a part of this,” Singer told the UNHS staff gathered for the event. “This clinic is a miracle. It will stand as a landmark to the Navajo Nation for all time.”
Current UNHS CEO, Michael Jensen, talked about the growth and expansion of UNHS and its services over the past several years. Partnering with University of Utah Health for services UNHS could not provide on its own has greatly enhanced the medical care for UNHS patients. Expanded transportation services have been added, and new medical and dental providers have nearly doubled the number of providers at UNHS. He said UNHS is a $40 million company with 330 employees. He gave the Board of Directors credit for helping make this happen.
Jensen explained many of the unique services the new clinic will provide; like a large, comfortable waiting area with a market, where patients can buy food and drinks. Free coffee will be served and patients will be given round discs when they check in (similar to those given customers waiting in line at the Olive Garden and other restaurants). These discs will vibrate when it is the patient’s turn to be seen. This means patients waiting to be seen don’t have to remain in the waiting area. They can go to the market or other areas of the clinic while waiting.
“We want to make this clinic a place of healing. It will have lots of windows and it will be a homey place for our patients,” Jensen added. “We will be in a greater position to make your experience as comfortable as possible.”
Other amenities include television sets on the ceiling in the dental area, so younger patients can watch cartoons while being treated. There is a drive-thru pharmacy with a larger, faster, safer script-dispensing unit, a 3-dimensional X-Ray machine (only the second in Utah. U of U has the other), and a conference room that can be used by community members when not being used by UNHS staff.
“We want to make a miracle in our community,” Jensen added.
UNHS officials want the public to know the Montezuma Creek Clinic will be closed July 24, 25 and 26 while the clinic operations are moved into the new clinic. The clinic will begin seeing patients on July 27.