Southcentral Foundation breaks ground on new Anchorage health care facility

Tegan Hanlon
Southcentral Foundation officials presented concept art for its proposed Nuka Building on July 29, 2014. Tegan Hanlon / Alaska Dispatch News

Southcentral Foundation announced construction Tuesday on a new building in Anchorage’s University-Medical District that will house three of the organization’s health programs, including its growing faith-based training initiative that targets domestic violence, abuse and neglect.

The three-story, nearly 59,000-square-foot facility will cost the Alaska Native health organization about $28 million, with $2 million in funding coming from the state of Alaska and $2 million from a Rasmuson Foundation grant, said Allison Knox, a spokesperson for the nonprofit. She expects the building on Tudor Centre Drive to open by winter of 2015-2016.

Once open, it will serve as a centralized hub for the organization's Family Wellness Warriors Initiative conference that it holds twice a year to address the effects of domestic violence, child sexual abuse and neglect, said Katherine Gottlieb, president and chief executive officer of Southcentral Foundation.

The conference began in Cooper Landing in the late 1990s, adapting teachings from a Michigan-based ministry for an Alaska Native audience. For five days, participants -- including counselors, health care professionals, abuse victims and abusers -- cover a series of topics, uncovering their childhoods and telling their stories, said Lisa Dolchok, a tribal doctor with Southcentral Foundation.

“Our whole process is to break the silence,” Dolchok said. The 74-year-old woman has gone through the process herself, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

“We don’t get healed," she said. "We begin the healing process,"

Southcentral Foundation currently holds the conferences at a small building off Lark Street. It can accommodate 38 people. Soon, they’ll invite more, Dolchok said.

Designs of the new building feature an auditorium and a handful of group therapy rooms and administrative offices.

The auditorium will seat health care professionals and educators interested in learning about Southcentral Foundation's relationship-based health care model called the Nuka System of Care. The organization has developed the Nuka Institute as a teaching center, attracting health care providers from Oregon, Singapore and Scotland to learn about the way the Alaska site delivers health care, Gottlieb said.

“All of those trainings are scattered all across campus in rooms where we could fit people,” she said. “This will give us the space to coordinate efforts better.”

Gottlieb said the Southcentral Foundation will also relocate its learning circles to the building. It currently hosts the activities, which focus on topics like nutrition, parenting and addictions, between five and 10 times a week.