Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Phoenix Indian Medical Center



Clockwise from top left: east wing of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center; front wing; sign, "The Phoenix Indian Medical Center is a Place for Healing"; plaque dedicated to Hon. Carl Hayden. November 2011. All photos by Stefany Sheridan

4520 N. Central Ave, Phoenix AZ

The Phoenix Indian Medical Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Workforce Investment Act to support comprehensive employment and training activities for Native American Indians, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian individuals. The hospital is located on 4520 N. Central Ave, in Phoenix Arizona. Along with comprehensive employment and training activities, the Medical Center also emphasizes their services on HIV care, treatment, research, and intervention. The estimated rate of AIDS diagnosis for American Indian and Alaska Native adults and adolescents was 9.3, the 3rd highest after the rates for black adults and adolescents and Hispanic adults and adolescents (World Disease Weekly, 2006). According to Dr. Anthony Decker of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, “Indigenous peoples have the highest rates of sexually transmissible diseases and a higher burden of substance abuse than many other geographic and ethnic communities, causing a greater risk of HIV infection (World Disease Weekly, 2006).”

The Phoenix Indian Medical Center delivers health care to approximately 140,000 Native Americans across the states of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The hospital works with closely 40 tribes in the Phoenix Area. Along with HIV services, many other services are provided to clients of the Indian tribes, such as dental, diabetes, pharmacy, etc. The hospital holds 179 beds for certified clients, 32 beds for the surgical unit, 39 beds for the medical unit, and 22 beds for the pediatric unit. There are also 10 beds for the OB unit, along with 10 nursery beds. The Phoenix Indian Medical center also provides a lot of research, in which 21 beds are in the research unit, along with 5 beds in the ICU (World Disease Weekly, 2006).

The hospital gained its location because of the tribal and HIS facilities in the area. The goal of the hospital is to provide the highest quality culturally competent HIV services. These services include clinically based intervention and medically appropriate care and treatment. The hospital provides HIV counseling and testing, intervention with infected and also at-risk clients, STI prevention, and also community outreach and education. As for their care and treatment for their clients, they integrate medical, behavioral, and traditional Native American concepts to their treatment. Licensed psychiatrists also provide mental services, and HIV certified physicians, pharmacists, and nurse care gives medical care. The belief among many in the hospital is that if they are able to maintain or handle the outbreak of HIV in the Native American community, then it could speak volumes for how to deal with the issue on a more national, or even global scale.

The Phoenix Indian Medical Center is a very unique facility in the area of Phoenix. It hospitalizes and services to only members of federally recognized tribes, Native Alaskans, or Native Hawaiian’s. Individuals must reside in Maricopa, Navajo-Apache, or Yavapai Counties and must be off the reservation for a minimum of 30 days. Members acquiring services from the Phoenix Indian Medical Center must submit various documents, such as a tribal enrollment record, proof of residency, and family income for the past six months.

When we visited the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, we were able to talk with Roberta Arthur who gave us much of this information regarding the center. However, it was difficult to learn information more in depth because we were unable to meet the requirements of individuals accepted at this facility, and thus had a hard time getting into direct contact with a doctor or administrator. Furthermore, even though we visited in the early evening, the hospital seemed to be operating at capacity, and seemed to have a steady flow of people into the building. We noticed that the facility looked much older, and many of the wings of the hospital were located in trailers, meaning that the size of the facility was severely lacking. The facility was created in 1972, and while many in the Native American community have called for the hospital to be renovated and updated, these cries have gone largely ignored. Also among the facilities was a helicopter-pad in which individuals could be transported to the hospital quickly if needed. The Phoenix Indian Center is connected to our course ideas, because the center was located upon where main Indian tribes were located within Phoenix. The facility also services to only members of tribes, to help conquer and treat individuals and stop these problems in the future. The center tries to keep its focus on the needs and ills of the Native community, but seems unable to consistently meet the growing demand on the small facility. There are about 150,000 Indian Americans in the treatable area.

- Stefany Sheridan and Reggie Halstrom


“HIV/AIDs Education; Conference to address the impact of HIV/AIDs on Native Americans” World Disease Weekly, 5/9/2006, pg. 1218

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