Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte is one of the most extraordinary yet little-known figures in U.S. history. Not only was she the first Native American licensed to practice medicine, but she constructed the first hospital on a reservation without a penny of federal funding. Built in 1913 on the Omaha Indian Reservation in the village of Walthill, NE, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 for her pioneering efforts in providing health care for Native Americans. For over 30 years, a small group of Walthill residents has been struggling to maintain the building. Due to vacancy and neglect, it nearly was lost because of severe water damage and structural deterioration.
Now, a new effort is underway to preserve the legacy of Dr. Picotte through rehabilitation of the hospital. In 2017, a partnership was formed including the Omaha Tribe, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, Dr. Picotte descendants, community leaders, and BVH Architecture. Led by the non-profit Picotte Center Board, a broad based planning effort was undertaken resulting in a renovation master plan, prepared by BVH, recommending a three phase stabilization and rehabilitation effort. To date, Phase 1-Emergency Roof Stabilization and Phase 2-Exterior Rehabilitation have been implemented.
Phase 3-the Interior Rehabilitation, when completed will: