Tribe gets $8 million loan for senior care

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The Blackfeet Tribe will receive an $8 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture to help spur the development of a much-needed long-term senior care facility at the Blackfeet Care Center in Browning.

The loan is part of the department’s $501 million nationwide investment aimed at improving rural health care and will be divided accordingly among 61 projects.

The development in Browning will replace a smaller, 47-year-old outdated facility with a 27,079-square-foot structure offering 47 beds. The $8 million will go toward completing the first phase of the two-phase building process and will account for 39 of the total anticipated beds.

According to a press release, phase two will be constructed at a later date.

“This project is a big deal,” Montana State Director for Rural Development Charles Robison said. “It will help those who need it, It will employ people and it will fulfill part of the tribe’s needs.”

Of the estimated 7,000 residents the infrastructure serves who live off and on the reservation, some have to travel more than 60 miles to reach the center. The facility also will provide time and expense relief for those currently traveling great distances to receive care — one of the many issues plaguing rural facilities, but especially those on or near tribal territories.

According to Robison, the Blackfeet Tribe approached Montana’s rural development team, asking for assistance in meeting the needs of the elderly in their community. The loan to the tribe is an example of the department’s ability to provide resources so “the community can have the means to then help themselves,” Robison said.

Robison said providing the means for rural healthcare facilities to be more self-sustaining is a priority of the Trump Administration.

The Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, established by President Donald Trump in 2017, was created to identify ways to “promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities.”

According to the task force’s findings, increased investments in rural infrastructure was one that topped the list.

Reporter Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com.

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