Colville Service Unit
In the remote and beautiful northcentral part of Washington, the Colville Reservation is the largest in the state at 1.4 million acres. The Reservation contains incredible diversity of ecosystems from vast stretches of high desert plateau in the south near Grand Coulee Dam to high, forested mountains in the north. The Columbia River marks the southern border, the Okanogan River on the west and the Kettle River on the east.
Twelve tribes and one band compromise the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. There are over 9,600 enrolled tribal members, over half of whom live on or near the Reservation. The tribal government and other tribal services are located at Nespelem (population 240). The Reservation and surrounding area are sparsely populated with Omak (population 4,000+) being the largest adjacent community to the west side of the Reservation. Spokane (population 200,000+) is 104 miles southeast of Nespelem. Wenatchee (population 27,930) is 96 miles southwest of Omak. The tribes operate several business ventures under a Charter with the Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation (CTEC), including forest products, tourism, and agriculture sectors. They also operate three gaming facilities, houseboats and grocery stores.
The 40,000 square foot IHS facility in Nespelem was completed in June 2007 and offers family practice-oriented medical, dental, and optometry services. Lab, pharmacy, and x-ray services are also available on site. The Colville Service Unit (CSU) operates an IHS satellite office in Omak with one provider and nurse, dental, and pharmacy services.
The Confederated Tribes also operate several of their own medical and dental facilities located across the reservation. In the community of Inchelium, located on the east side of the reservation, the tribe opened a new health clinic consisting of 17,000 square feet; this is an IHS PL 93-638 contracted service delivery system launched in 1984. The next community, Keller, located between Inchelium and Nespelem, opened a small tribal clinic consisting of 7,750 square feet.
The nearest hospital is 20 miles south of Nespelem in Grand Coulee Dam. For specialty care, patients are generally referred to physicians in Spokane or Wenatchee. The most complex cases may be referred to Seattle.
The CSU Chief Executive Officer is a member of the Confederated Tribes and has worked in health care systems in tribal and state governments, in addition to having been an elected tribal council representative in the past. The CEO managed about 65 staff for the delivery of ambulatory care, collaborates with other tribal IHS ‘638 programs for community health care, outpatient mental health and alcohol/drug services, environmental health, and provides services to the tribes 35 bed convalescent center.