Joining Hands for a Healthy Future
TUBA CITY-The "Joining Hands for a Healthy Future - Community Partners in Action Health Forum" event on Aug. 29 at the Tuba City Community Center impressed visiting federal dignitaries from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Health and Human Services (HHS) departments who were touring Native nations across the U.S.A. to promote Medicare.
As part of the "A Healthier U.S. Starts Here" initiative here in Tuba City, the HHS joined local health care partners to raise awareness of the importance of preventing chronic disease and illness, promote Medicare preventive benefits, and provide information about how beneficiaries can take action to maintain and improve their health. CMS and the Indian Health Service (IHS) also joined together to promote healthier living not only because it affects Medicare beneficiaries, but as it effects the health promotion/disease prevention activities that Indian Country practices on a daily basis to promote healthier living.
"This effort supports the [goal of IHS] to create healthier American Indian and Alaska Native communities by developing and implementing effective health promotion and chronic disease prevention programs," said Dr. Charles Grim, IHS Director. "This is accomplished in collaboration with our key stakeholders, the American Indian and Alaska Native people, and by building on individual, family, and community strengths and assets."
Representatives from community health programs showcased their health outreach initiatives, programs and services. Sherri L. Helton, Navajo Area IHS Safety and Occupational Health Specialist responded by stating, "The Community Partners in Action Wellness Day was a great event to showcase program outreach from the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and respective health care facilities. Emphasis was made on local empowerment and responsibility for wellness, prevention and emergency readiness. Great participation from both community and representing programs were evident. I commend Tuba City and neighboring communities for its commitment in the promotion of 'walk in beauty.'"
The event agenda was full of informational topics for the whole day, but the morning sessions distinctively made an impression. They featured the cultural and traditional emphasis about the four directions (East - thinking, South - planning, West - life and North - hope) as part of the health initiative and forum. CMS and HHS were not only impressed with the services being displayed, but highly appreciative about the holistic approach in explaining the four directions of Navajo Wellness as spiritual significance to instilling healthy lifestyles for Native communities.
Shirley Peaches, Tuba City Regional Health Care Center (TCRHCC) Safety Officer/Community partner commented about the experience on planning the event. "We gave it a positive perspective to what we know and live by as being Indian. As a component to the overall sense of unity we featured the four directions as pinnacle not only in prayer, but to what health and life is about to our Native people."
"I admire the total approach of the four directions as intergenerational (beginning to end) and that we can learn more from Native Americans to create a healthier, more positive nation," said Dr. Charlotte Yeh, CMS Acting Regional Administrator from the San Francisco Regional Office.
Dr. Yeh stated, "There are 1.5 billion broken bones each year due to the thinning of the bones affecting the elderly. It's important that senior citizens take advantage of Medicare coverage in being more proactive to improve health by engaging in pre-screening tests and where it is reimbursable by CMS. Also ensuring that the people receive and learn about good nutrition, exercise daily, and avoiding risky health behaviors that are considered preventable."
As the community health programs displayed and demonstrated their services to the people attending the event, Laura M. Caliguiri, HHS Director of Intergovernmental Affairs stated, "The programs being displayed are impressive. A sense of community involvement is key to success, and working with the tribal governments is important to us."
Dennis Dudley, DHHS Aging Services Program Specialist also commented, "The event typifies a great deal of coordination and dedication from the breadth of health programs and this event also highlights to elders the importance of health and nutrition from the young people showcasing their services."
Henry F. Tyson, CMS Director, External Affairs also acknowledged the tribal health programs. "The tribal health people and programs are pursuing the course of wellness in helping beneficiaries avoid illness and disease. Following health management regiments through exercise and diet are important for all of us to continue."
Thomas E. Lorentzen, HHS Regional Director Region IX felt privileged to attend the event and stated, "The programs care about the health and wellness of the people, the federal government needs to learn from the Native Americans to include culture and tradition."
"Learning about the four directions really inspired us as visitors, thank you."
Hope McDonald-Lonetree, Tuba City council delegate expressed her gratitude for the event. "The event was positive, a tremendous success. The group from D.C. came and met with health professionals and saw firsthand how federal dollars are utilized."
As a collaborative effort was being campaigned to promote the event, McDonald-Lonetree acknowledged the partnership. "The community event was not put on by one organization, but all who participated share responsibility for solutions affecting the community. TCRHCC did a beautiful job with the event bringing everyone together.
"I am proud of the community and especially about the progress," she said.
Michelle Archuleta, Director of HPDP/Community Partners stated, "It's always amazing how community partnership efforts are the foundation that ensure wellness and prevention efforts to continue within Native communities. This was most evident with the turnout of local resource providers, the excellent educational sessions offered and the high expertise of local people addressing community needs."
In conclusion, Ron Milford, TCRHCC Facilities Manager/Community Partner commended the partnership forum by saying, "great collaboration between the community and health programs was evident.
Initial planning and preparation conducted between many partners associated with health showed as 106 programs received certificates of appreciation for their efforts."
Angie Maloney - TCRHCC Office of Environmental Health District Sanitarian/Community Partner also reaffirmed, "The partnerships and collaboration that were strengthened or developed through this health forum needs to continue to deliver improved services to our service population.
After this successful event I feel that our service providers can call on each other to pull together another event like this one in the future. Ahe' hee' (thank you)."
Please visit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.mymedicare.gov for more information about federal health care coverage.