Recently a dental patient shared with me a pleasant story about the services he received at the Chapa-De Indian Health in Auburn, California, a non-profit community health center supported by the United Auburn Indian Community. Chapa-De also contracts with the Indian Health Service to provide no-cost or low-cost services and medications to eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives.
All the health care services offered to eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives living in California are operated by federally recognized Tribes or Tribal Organizations who contract with the Indian Health Service through the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. So, this story is especially wonderful to share.
The patient, an enrolled member of a federally-recognized Tribe, who has had employer-based insurance for over 30 years, decided one day to utilize the dental services at Chapa-De. Initially the patient debated changing providers, but after hearing more and more positive reports about Chapa-De, an appointment was scheduled.
Chapa-De, founded in 1974 only had one dental chair in a rented office space, and now the center offers a myriad of services in a new state-of-the-art facility, including medical and dental care, optometry and behavioral health services, a diabetes program and health and wellness classes. There’s also a pharmacy onsite.
The patient who has used commercial providers for decades was not only impressed with the modern equipment but also with the kindness and compassionate care received from the receptionist to the nurses and physicians. The portable x-ray units in the dental stations were particularly handy for the patient’s visit as it had been a few years since his last dental exam, so a variety of procedures were needed.
A complete dental plan was developed for the patient, and over a few short months, the dental plan and all needs were fully addressed with minimal waiting periods between appointments. The same dentist and dental assistant cared for the patient, which can be important as it builds familiarity and trust.
So pleased with the services at Chapa-De, the patient’s family now receives care at the center. For this patient, the dental experience and quality of care at Chapa-De was enough to keep him smiling, and maintaining good oral health with routine checkups, which are scheduled in advance by the center’s great staff.
Beverly Miller, M.H.A., M.B.A., is the Director for the California Area Indian Health Service. Ms. Miller manages a unique health care program provided primarily through contracts and compacts recognized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. The California Area Indian Health service serves 104 federally-recognized Indian tribes through 44 rural health care operating units, eight Urban Indian Health programs and two alcohol treatment programs.