ROSEBUD, SD -
A ribbon cutting is usually a light-hearted affair. But a new wellness center in Rosebud comes with an important mission: fighting diabetes.
"Diabetes is rampant. I have so many stories that people share with me throughout the years of their family members being on dialysis. I had both of my parents on dialysis at one time, and I also have diabetes," Connie Brushbreaker said.
Brushbreaker has been heading up the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's diabetes prevention program for years out of a building that wasn't large enough to meet the need. Now a change is on the way.
"We believe as a diabetes related company, as a leader in the field, that we really need to give back to the communities and make sure that we're doing what we can to help, so that's why were here," Novo Nordisk Corporate Vice President Curt Oltmans said.
The Danish pharmaceutical company has spent more than $5-million to construct a new, larger facility for the tribe's prevention program, as well as a mobile medical clinic to reach patients in outlying parts of the reservation.
"There's an exercise facility, there's also a dedicated training space for both nutrition and diabetes education, and there's office space as well as exam rooms where they can do medical screens," Oltmans said.
"We've had so many other companies, so many other programs that have come to the tribe and they have always wanted something in return. Novo isn't doing that. All they want to do is to help us," Brushbreaker said.
Construction on the wellness center should be wrapped up by October, but even when these doors open Novo Nordisk says its commitment won't end.
"We have committed to the tribe to help them underwrite the significant cost that it will take to operate this mobile unit moving around, as well as the wellness center.," Oltmans said.
It's a gift many here are confident will help stem the tide of diabetes in their community.
"We are going to combat this disease, that we will take care of our own people and people will take care of their own health," Brushbreaker said.
Native Americans have a higher rate of diabetes than any other ethnic group in the country. While more than one-thousand tribal members have been diagnosed with the disease on Rosebud, the actual number is likely much higher.
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