The Tucson Area Indian Health Service (IHS) provides primary health care and community outreach services to members of the Tohono O'odham Nation (to.ho.no aah.tum), formerly known as the Papago, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe (pah.skwah ya.ke) of Arizona, and a growing and diverse urban Indian population. The Tucson Area Sells Service Unit (SSU) operates a 14-bed hospital in Sells, AZ and three outpatient health centers on the Tohono O'odham Nation, treating approximately 20,000 patients annually. Health care services for the Pascua Yaqui tribal members of Pima County are provided through a tribal Self-Determination PL 93-638 contract with approximately 7,000 users.
In 2007, the Tucson SSU adopted the Improving Patient Care (IPC) initiative when the SSU leadership began redesigning and transforming the Indian healthcare system. The aim of the IPC is to improve the quality of and access to care, ensuring continuity of care, and improving patients' experience, including decreasing inefficiencies and making positive and measurable improvements by using a care team approach (also known as Family Practice Model or Medical Home Model). By 2010, the SSU fully implemented the Family Practice Model at all four federal sites and continues to improve the health status and reducing the health disparities of American Indian and Alaska Native patients within the Tucson service area. What does this all mean? It means as a registered patient within the Sells Service Unit, you are assigned a care team that consist of a primary care physician, a nurse and medical technician who will provide your care at each doctor's visit and will follow you and your family members with your health concerns/issues. Additionally, you will be given an appointment time to see your care team members when you need it.
On March 1, 1997, the Office of Health Program Research and Development (a IHS headquarters office) was changed to its new designation - the Tucson Area Office (published in the Federal Register, Vol.61, No.245, dated December 19, 1996). Currently, the Tucson Area Office is one of 12 Area Offices of the Indian Health Service (IHS), headquartered in Tucson, AZ with 400 plus employees that include physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, engineers and other allied health professionals.