Navajo Nation President Listens to Tribal Citizens Concerns about Indian Health Service

Navajo Nation President Begaye told the community that gathered for the forum that there are concerns at the U.S. Senate level over Indian Health Services.

Published July 16, 2017

TUBA CITY– The Navajo Department of Health (NDOH) and the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) facilitated a public forum addressing community concerns with health care delivery systems on the Navajo Nation.

The forum was held at the Tuba City Chapter House this past Thursday.

“There are concerns at the U.S. Senate level over Indian Health Services (IHS). A recent Wall Street Journal investigation explored national IHS facilities and cited failed inspections, shut down of services and losses of federal funds,” said President Russell Begaye.

The president asked the attendees to present their concerns and experiences with the existing Navajo health care delivery system.

“We need to assess where we are and where we need to go from here,” he said.

Across the Navajo Nation there are five service units in the areas of Chinle, Crownpoint, Gallup, Kayenta and Shiprock.

There are five tribal contract and compact health organizations.  Title V compact health care facilities are the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp, Winslow Indian Care Center and Utah Navajo Health System.  Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado and Tso Ho Tso Medical Center in Fort Defiance are both Title I contract facilities.

Concerns brought up at the forum included: lack of specialized care causing patients to go elsewhere; Navajo Nation employee’s HMA insurance benefits not able to be billed for usage of IHS facilities; patient wait times; misdiagnosis causing unwarranted amputations, incorrect prescriptions and death; and poor road conditions causing extended wait times for ambulances.

“We’re here today to connect on a grassroots level so that we can take these concerns and present them at the federal level,” said Director of NDOH, Glorinda Segay. “We are here to assist our people, which is the Navajo way.”

President Begaye told the attendees that recently he was notified that he will serve on a committee put together by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price.

“Serving on this committee will provide the opportunity to communicate issues that are raised on the Navajo Nation directly to the HHS,” he said.

“We need to make sure that we are addressing improvements to health services on the Navajo Nation and these hearings are providing the map to guide improvements,” President Begaye said. “Our facilities are underfunded, understaffed and need permanent providers. We are doing a lot but we need to do more. That’s why we are here today.”

Further public forums addressing Navajo health care delivery systems will be forthcoming and facilitated throughout the service unit areas.

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