Our People & History
Tucson is Arizona's second largest metropolitan area and is home to nearly one million residents. Considered as one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in North America and referred to as the "Land of the Crimson Evening." Tucson is steeped in rich heritage of Indian and Spanish influence. It affords entertainment, recreation, shopping and cultural opportunities.
Situated in south-central Arizona, extending south to the U.S./Mexico border, the Tucson service area encompasses the Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O'odham Reservations, the latter being the second largest in the United States. With almost 3 million acres, it is a place of natural beauty unique to the Sonoran Desert . Vast valleys framed by rugged mountains, all dominated by Baboquivari Peak, sacred mountain of the Tohono O'odham, jutting from the desert floor to an ominous 7730 feet.
Blessed with the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert and an unsurpassed climate of 360 sunny days a year, the temperature ranges from 50 degrees in the winter and over 100 degrees in the summer. The arid desert climate yields an annual rainfall of only 7 inches, received mostly during dramatic late summer storms thundering through the desert. They bring vital watershed, unforgettable skies, and a sign of hope and renewal to the People who have lived here for centuries. The land is flush with ocotillo, cholla, and saguaro cacti--with a backdrop of mesquite and palo verde trees, creosote, devil's claw, and an array of desert flowers.
Kitt Peak National Observatory sits high atop a peak on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, the valleys below are dotted with traditional desert dwellings and more modern homes built by the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose inhabitants continue to live a quiet rural desert life, as their forebears did. Yet, a more urban setting is closer than one might imagine.
Tucson is home to the University of Arizona Wildcats, with Davis Monthan Air Force base, tourism and government being the major economic forces, numerous medical and research facilities, headquarters for a number of major corporations, and is a favorite location of the film industry. The area is a favored retirement center, boasting sunbelt attributes and low humidity, with effortless access to Old Mexico, pine forests, snow sports, and endless sightseeing opportunities . . . all within a setting of natural splendor.
Our Indigenous Peoples
Health service for the Tohono O'odham is centered in Sells, Arizona, capital of the Tohono O'odham Reservation and hub of reservation life. Health centers are also located in the reservation communities of Santa Rosa San Xavier, and San Simon. Health care services are a combined effort of the IHS and the Tohono O'odham Department of Health & Human Services by providing a comprehensive health program of inpatient, ambulatory and community health services.
Health care services for the Pascua Yaqui tribal members of Pima County are provided through a managed cared contract with the El Rio Health Care Center
Since 1980 members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe have received their medical care through a contracted arrangement with a local federally qualified community health center. The contractor provides primary physician visits, pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services at various locations throughout Tucson as well as at the Pascua Yaqui reservation. Over 4,500 members are enrolled in the Pascua Yaqui Medical Program.
The Tucson Area IHS maintains a dedicated Contract Health Service Program to arrange for medical care not available at the contractor's site. Following CHS guidelines, prior authorization, referral approval/denial, alternate resource identification and case management are the primary functions of the program. The provider network includes contracted hospitals and specialists along with ancillary care necessary.
Tucson Indian Center
The Tucson Indian Center provides health promotion, preventative services, education, outreach and referral services to Tucson urban Indians. In addition, they provide limited transportation services to patients needing access to health care and services.
Some History about Indian Health Service
As early as the treaties of the late 1700's, the U.S. Government has recognized its responsibility to Native American peoples. By the mid-1800's, this responsibility began to include medical care in various forms through a number of governmental agencies. Finally, in 1955, the delivery of health care to American Natives was placed with the Public Health Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In response to the growth of the program and the needs of the people, PHS formed the Indian Health Service.
On March 1, 1977, 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). 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.