During the 2018 Partnership Conference, I had the pleasure of accompanying IHS Acting Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee and other IHS leaders on site visits to new tribal health facilities in Arizona. On July 31, NATIVE HEALTH hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new primary medical care office in Maryvale, west Phoenix. The project is a partnership between NATIVE HEALTH and Chicanos Por La Causa initiated by non-recurring program funds from the Indian Health Service. During our visit, Walter Murillo, CEO of NATIVE HEALTH, told us that “This partnership is a perfect example of the benefits of reaching American Indian and Alaska Native communities with high quality care in all parts of the metro Phoenix area.”
The morning of August 1, we traveled to Sacaton to meet with Gila River Indian Community Council members before traveling to Chandler to tour their new Hau’pal (Red Tail Hawk) Health Center. The new health center is operated by Gila River Health Care , an entity of the Gila River Indian Community and funded by the Indian Health Service with a construction budget of $73 million. Before touring the facility, Rear Adm. Weahkee met with staff and received an update from Gila River Health Care CEO Derrick Glum. The new 139,400 square foot facility is located on 18 acres of tribal land in the Gila River Indian Community’s District 4, along the northern boundary of the community. The health care center will serve the Gila River Indian Community and Ak-Chin Indian Communities in addition to approximately 15,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives who live in the southeast area of metropolitan Phoenix. Primary care and other services such as behavioral health, physical therapy, pharmacy, dental, and alternative therapies will be provided.
The red tail hawk was selected to be the namesake of the healthcare facility because of the bird’s cultural significance and symbolism to the Gila River Indian Community and other Native American tribes.