Tuba Healthcare receives $650,000 grant to expand health services

Funding to support implementation of mobile medical care system

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Basic medical care will soon roll into rural Western Navajo communities that currently have limited access to primary care doctors and nurses.

Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) has received preliminary notice of a $650,000 annual grant to improve access to primary health care for patients in rural areas and other underserved populations with no access to preventative health care and treatment.

The Community Health Center Program award comes from the Primary Care Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and ServicesAdministration (HRSA). It is a federal rural health improvement grant awarded to TCRHCC.

The funding will support the implementation and evaluation of TCRHCC Community Health Center (CHC) New Access Point (NAP), a mobile medical care system to provide primary care and dental services to remote communities via both a mobile primary care and a dental van. The grant will also increase access to behavioral health services at TCRHCC main campus.

"The announcement of the HRSA award makes it possible to expand community healthcenter care," said Grey Farrell, Jr., president of the TCRHCC Board of Directors. "The grant is making our community health center services stronger and ensuring more of our patients get access to the care they need."

To improve poor rural health and increase access to health care in the Western Navajo Nation and adjacent communities, TCRHCC plans to purchase two mobile medical vans delivering dental and medical services to TCRHCC's patient base population. The mobile vans will enable scheduling clinics in communities such as; Cameron, Coalmine, Coppermine, Bodaway-Gap, Kaibeto, Tonalea, and Lechee as early as 2013.

TCRHCC mobile CHC service offers a bridge to their patients.

"Bringing primary care and dental services directly to our patients in rural parts ofWestern Navajo and other individuals who can't afford to travel for basic health care services means better and more timely health care for them," said Dr. Katie Magee, outpatient medical director. "Mobile access to health care for our patients means better care management and improves the health of our patients especially for frail, elderly and those with chronicillnesses."

Lack of health care access, transportation or time to travel to traditional medical facilities has kept patients from seeking preventative care. When patients do not receive regular medical care and screenings, illnesses that might have been caught and treated can instead escalate into chronic or difficult-to-treat conditions.

TCRHCC mobile CHC will soon be able to address and help prevent chronic disease and serious problems by identifying health concerns early for their patients.

"Services provided through the vans may include preventive care, immunizations, health risk screenings, women's health, nutrition counseling, chronic disease management, mental health counseling, and basic dental care," stated Lynette Bonar, associate executive officer/chief operating officer.

Physicians, nurse practitioners, and dental hygienists will help staff the vans, which will operate five days a week and be equipped with a medical records system, blood drawing station, and needed medical and dental equipment.

"We are very excited about expanding our community-based services through mobile health care outreach in rural communities. We will begin our efforts with the underserved adults and elders of Western Navajo by working with the local Chapter health representatives," said CEO, Joe Engelken. "The program has been a goal of TCRHCC for several years, and both our Board of Directors and those we serve are very excited about it."

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