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The turn-of-the-century Sage Memorial Hospital complex in Ganado is beautiful, historic and holds a lot of nostalgia for the community. But, for housing a modern hospital, it is about the worst thing imaginable.

The stone buildings are drafty, cramped and “nearly impossible to retrofit for anything, with those solid cement walls,” said Sage’s Chief Operating Officer Netrisha Delgai. She noted the buildings have been grandfathered in so they don’t have to adhere to modern building codes, “but if we closed down the hospital or the ER for one second, we wouldn’t be able to open back up.”

So after decades of wishing and planning, and with a hefty settlement from a lawsuit against the Indian Health Service in hand, the board and administration of the venerable health care institution have decided, in Delgai’s words, “You know what? We need to make this happen. The community members deserve a new hospital.”

Next month, a public groundbreaking will be held for a new 40-bed, 120,000-square-foot hospital and clinic with state-of-the-art electronic infrastructure to support modern medical technology — which has changed a lot since the old hospital was built in 1911.

The building is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Between construction and the permanent jobs generated by the expanded services, at least 100 Diné will find employment here. While the hospital could pay the entire $125 million cost of the new structure out of the $200 million it received in the 2017 settlement, Sage CEO Cristi El-Meligi said it is leaning toward issuing bonds.

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