One of the top five needs expressed by patients at the Alaska Native Medical Center over the years has been the need for more oral health. 

"In planning our 20-year vision, we knew that we were going to plan to build for more dental space on campus," Southcentral Foundation President/CEO Dr. Katherine Gottlieb said. "At first, we looked at a two-story building for dental specific pediatric care for children."

As conversations continued, Gottlieb's team realized that the spot where the new building was to be erected, was actually a prime spot on campus with space on campus getting tighter and tighter. 

"Our team started asking questions of what would happen if we just kept building," Gottlieb said. "Why not build all the way out and use both lots, add a garage and three more floors."

The plan evolved into looking at all needs for kids. The building now nearly covers all services for child pediatric care. On Tuesday, the official ribbon cutting ceremony took place for the newest building on the Alaska Native Health Campus -- appropriately named the Dr. Katherine and Dr. Kevin Gottlieb Building. 

"It feels so amazing to be honored in this way," Gottlieb said. "We had no idea. It was a total surprise for Kevin and I. As a CEO, the rest of the board knew there was no way that I would say, come on, let's name a building after us. It was an unspoken rule not to name buildings after people before they are gone. So I was wondering if they were predicting something."

The new five-story building will house Alaska's Cleft Lip and Palate Program, children's dental, as well as the Dental Assistant Technology Program on the first two floors. OB-GYN, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Gyn-Oncology and pediatric behavioral and developmental services will fill the top three floors. Construction on the five-story, 112,400-square-foot facility began in June 2016.

"We also supply dental services to over 20 rural communities one to four times a year," SFC Dental Clinic Administrator Jeanette Akin said. "We ship out over one ton of dental gear and supplies to community health centers across the state by plane, boat, any means possible really." 

The program took ownership of Alaska's cleft lip and palate program in 2016. The program is available to everyone. 

"The dental department just needed more space for children," Akin said. "Here they are, away from the adults and in their own environment. It's a more friendly environment for them and also covers a huge need."

Southcentral Foundation is an Alaska Native-owned, nonprofit health care organization. Managing more than 80 health care programs and services, SCF serves 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Borough and 55 rural villages in the Anchorage Service Unit.

The first patients in the new building are expected on September 26. 

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