While elected officials were busy arguing about lost elections, past legislation, and saving face, local governments, businesses, medical providers, and non-profits are proceeding with the worthwhile goal of expanding access to affordable healthcare for all Americans. For example, October 12, 2013, while Congress people were scurrying to airports after a futile week of trying to save face, Native Health held an Open House at 4041 N Central Ave in Phoenix, Arizona.
The new Native Health clinic is a dream come-true for people like Susan Levy, a well-known champion for improving health conditions for Native Americans in Arizona. The agency had long outgrown its aged location a few blocks north.
Native American people face serious health challenges. In 2007, the Arizona Department of Health reported that the average life expectancy for an American Indian was 59, compared to State-average 77. Native Health annually provides services to over 12,000 individuals during over 68,000 visits. The new clinic will be able to provide a wider variety of services to more people.
Visitors met the Native Health staff. Over 16% of Native Americans currently have diabetes and 30% have pre-diabetes. Marilyn Heinrichs is a Diabetes Educator, who will provide needed education. Dr. Diane Weissman, spoke to people about available family practice services.
Inside, Dr. Abh Thu Becker showed off the brand new chairs and equipment adorning the expanded dental facilities. Outside, youngsters received free fluoride treatments.
“We had a wonderful turnout today,” said Health Service Administrator Deanna Sangster. “We are very grateful to the community for coming and to our partners who are making this possible.” One example is a partnership with Midwestern University, which will help provide free podiatry and ophthalmology services.
There were fun activities (e.g., face painting) for youth, who will be a primary target audience for Native Health. From 1994-2004, there was a 68% increase in diabetes among Native Americans 15-19 years old. Desert Snow Shaved Ice distributed hundreds of bags of kettle corn and samples of shaved ice.
One objective of healthcare reform is to provide coordinated, one-stop services for underserved communities. The Women, Infants & Children (WIC), which provides nutritional help, referrals and counseling for pregnant women, infants and children under five; behavioral health services; and enrollment assistance for other programs, such AHCCCS, food stamps and the Obamacare Marketplace, will all be available at Native Health, despite the shenanigans in Washington, DC