The new Qavartarvik Customer Lodge (QCL) is now open! After a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building on January 16, the lodge opened to YKHC customers traveling for medical care the following day.
Geraldine Beans from St. Mary’s, a member of YKHC’s Board of Directors, described her stay at the new facility: “Wonderful! The QCL is clean, quiet, and spacious. The food was great! I can’t say enough about how glad I am that people in this region will have a great place to stay when they come to Bethel for medical appointments.”
In Yugtun, qavartarvik means “a place to sleep.” The lodge is located conveniently near the hospital and is YKHC’s response to customer feedback regarding the lack of adequate housing when coming to Bethel for medical treatment and is part of our continuous efforts to ensure people in the region have convenient access to healthcare.
The facility is home to 109 hotel-style rooms, each with its own bathroom. Every room has at least one queen size bed, a full-size refrigerator with freezer and microwave as well as heating and cooling systems to ensure that everyone has a comfortable stay. All surfaces are wipeable and made with high quality durable materials.
The lodge also has handicap accessible rooms for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. These rooms feature wider entryways and walkways for easy navigation of mobility devices and furniture that is designed to accommodate individuals with limited mobility. These American Disabilities Act (ADA)-complaint rooms will help ensure every guest has a comfortable, welcoming experience in the lodge.
On the main floor you will find the Kuik Café, a nod to the importance of the river in sustaining life in our region. (Kuik is the Yup’ik word for river.) Customers staying at the lodge will also find coin-operated washers and dryers as well as a small convenience store.
Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated YKHC partners
During the ribbon cutting event on January 16, YKHC board members, staff, construction and community partners were recognized for their vision, expertise and efforts that made this building possible.
YKHC’s Vice President of Support Services Deanna Latham spoke about planning for the lodge. “It was important that this building promoted healing for the people of this region,” she remarked. “It had to be welcoming, comfortable, and honor the languages and people that will be staying here.”
The building was designed to be easy to navigate so people would feel at home. YKHC President and CEO Dan Winkleman said he keeps his Grandma Lena in mind in each project by asking himself, “Would Grandma Lena be able to find her way through the facility, would she be comfortable and safe?”
Latham talked about some of the visual cues in the building that help with navigation. “We integrated the cultural design that was so important to the hospital project so, in the same way, the first floor represents the connection we have to the water—the ocean, rivers and lakes that sustain our communities. The second floor honors the land—green grasses, tundra, mountains, and landscapes. And the third floor is reflective of the sky—the beautiful orange and red sunrises and sunsets that we often see here.”
Latham then shared an experience that is all too familiar in this region when it comes to finding adequate housing while in Bethel for medical appointments, “I remember even at a young age just finishing second grade being worried about flying into Bethel from Quinhagak to be seen at the hospital. I remember not knowing whether my mom and I would get stuck in Bethel and whether we would have a place to sleep for the night. Looking back, it felt like it was always a gamble with our safety and well-being. If we did get stranded, we usually had to stay at a distant relative’s home; people who were always kind and generous, which I will always be thankful for, but were strangers to me being a little girl.”
Now members of YKHC’s 58 partner tribes and their families will not have to worry about finding a place to stay when they travel to Bethel for medical care. They are welcome at the Qavartarvik Customer Lodge.
Arranging stay at the Qavartarvik Customer Lodge
The QCL is available for customers who are traveling to Bethel for medical appointments and for patients who are referred to other facilities and are traveling to those appointments through Bethel. Shuttle service is available to and from the lodge by calling 907-543-0185.
Reservations at the lodge will be arranged through YKHC’s Travel Management Center and Travel Care Group.
The following are important points to keep in mind when you need to travel for medical appointments:
- A reservation to stay at the QCL can only be made on completed travel.
- Please cancel reservations if you are not going to travel and/or let the travel department know.
- You may walk into the QCL with your housing voucher to get a room, but its best to have a reservation.
- YK Travel booths are conveniently located on the main floor of the QCL, in addition to the offices in the hospital, and the staff will be happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have.
- You can also reach YK Travel by calling 833-543-6625.
It is our sincere hope that with the opening of this lodge, our customers will be eager to travel to or through Bethel to receive recommended care, especially for preventative care and chronic care appointments. We are excited to be able to improve access to healthcare and health outcomes for people in the YK Delta.