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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Hospital receives a new teepee

Second powwow timed for Harvest Festival


Interim CEO Ramona Hicks looks up at light streaming into the teepee at Coulee Medical Center. - Scott Hunter photo

It's not made of concrete and steel, but a new wing, of sorts, was added to Coulee Medical Center last week - a teepee.

The effort was paid for with a grant and is an extension of CMC's ongoing efforts to cater to the whole patient, including a patient's spiritual needs.

About a third of CMC's patients are American Indian, and leaders at the hospital were bothered by an inability to allow, for various practical reasons, certain cleansing ceremonies inside the hospital.

Drumming and singing have actually been done, although somewhat quietly. But "smudging" the air with the smoke of sweetgrass doesn't sit well with smoke detectors or the ventilation system.

"Anytime one of our family members is in the hospital, it's pretty important," said Shoshanna Palmanteer on the practice.

Palmanteer, who works for CMC, applied for a grant last year from the Critical Access Hospital Network and received $13,000 to fund a powwow, the new teepee, and a walkway and foundation to put it on.

The teepee arrived last week.

Made of flame-resistant canvas and hand-carved poles, it's the largest teepee Palmanteer has ever seen, she said, 26 feet in diameter and tall.

It's on an area of lawn away from the front of the hospital, where a walkway will be built to allow wheelchair and gurney access.

The Oregon company that built it altered their plans to make the opening large enough to fit the hospital's gurney through.

Inside it on Friday, sunglight filtered through its light tan canvas and streamed through an opening at the top.

"It's very calming," observed Interim CEO Ramona Hicks, looking skyward.

Original plans had called for a concrete pad and walkway to the teepee, but Hicks said they're now thinking wood would seem more appropriate and less expensive.

The new teepee is up just in time for the second annual "Gathering of Wellness" powwow, which the hospital is sponsoring along with partners, including Colville Tribal Health.

That event will be held next Friday, Sept. 15, across highway 174, near the grain elevators, starting at 10 a.m. Indian tacos will be served for lunch.

Planners purposely timed the event to coincide with the Harvest Festival that same weekend.

Dan Nanamkin will emcee the powwow, with Fast Waters the host drum.

Palmanteer said prize money will be offered this year in the competition dancing.

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