Hospital contractors gift shaman's mask to new medical facility

The main contractors on the new Wrangell Medical Center have presented a shaman's apprentice mask to display in the facility.

"Crafted with red cedar, abalone, operculum shells and horsehair, the mask depicts a profound moment during the practice of a young shaman," the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium said in a prepared statement March 21. "Shamans (Sgáagaa) were known to possess healing powers and bridge the gap between spiritual and natural worlds."

The mask, created by Haida artist T.J. Young, who was raised in Hydaburg, was donated by Juneau-based Dawson Construction and Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Wold Architects & Engineers, and will be displayed at the medical center, SEARHC said.

The hospital, a $30 million project just off Zimovia Highway, fully opened last month. The health care campus now totals 44,500 square feet and includes an eight-bed acute care wing, 14-bed long-term care unit, expanded emergency department, and primary care. rehabilitation, imaging, laboratory and outpatient pharmacy services.

"Dawson is thrilled to have been able to partner with SEARHC on the Wrangell hospital, our 12th project together," Caleb McGraw, Dawson's project engineer, said in presenting the mask to SEARHC board member Lovey Brock on March 17.

"Our partners really delivered on this project - for SEARHC, our staff, and the community of Wrangell," Leatha Merculieff, hospital administrator, said in a prepared statement.

Dawson started clearing the site for construction in April 2019.


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