The opening of a new drug and alcohol treatment center in Bethel was celebrated January 11 as Board Members, funders, YKHC staff and community guests gathered for a ribbon cutting.
The YK Ayagnirvik Healing Center, formerly PATC, was designed in 2013 and when nearing completion was totally destroyed by fire. Newly rebuilt, the 16-bed facility, with separate wings for men and women, is providing alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs, including opioid addiction treatment.
Along with offices and group meeting rooms, the building includes a large multi-purpose room with a basketball half-court. Deanna Latham, YKHC’s Interim Support Services Vice President, said the room is an important component. “As people are fighting their addictions, they need to have a place to be physically active.” Along with addressing program needs, the building is economical. It is “fifty percent larger than the old facility, but will cost a lot less to heat and operate,” Latham said.
The ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremonies began in the multi-purpose room with the fourth grade Ayaprun Elitnaurvik students performing. Thank yous and congratulatory remarks from leadership, staff and funding agencies were followed by tours of the building and refreshments. President/CEO Dan Winkelman recognized funders Hearst Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, and Alaska State Legislators Rep. Bob Herron and Sen. Lyman Hoffman.
Board First Vice Chair Gloria Simeon, speaking on behalf of the Board, said, “This is a great day. We celebrate not only a new building, but the warriors, the behavioral health people, the counselors, the community—everyone that made this possible.”
Program Director Ray Watson said of behavioral health and treatment work, “it’s not because of the money, it’s because of love and compassion — to help people who are suffering. That’s why were here. I have a deep respect for those kind of people who choose this kind of work. it takes a lot of humility and love. We like to see people get better; we like to see people heal; we like to get them back to their families.”
Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation President, referring to the fire that destroyed the facility as it neared completion three years ago, said, “there was a great effort to build it, then something happened, it fell down and now it’s been picked up again. And that really is the message for people who struggle with alcohol.”