WINSLOW, Ariz. - Two reflective glass doors to the new Wellness Center on the campus of the Winslow Indian Health Care Center (WIHCC) welcome visitors with a traditional Navajo prayer: Hozhoogo Iina - Living the Beauty Way, a philosophy that honors the Dine dream of establishing balance and beauty in life by following a spiritual, healing path.
Following a five-month construction period, the late-July soft opening of the 6,048-square-foot structure realizes the long-held dream at WIHCC, a Tribal 638 Program, of creating a Wellness Center that will serve the center's patient population throughout the southwestern portion of the Navajo Nation.
About 400 guests are expected to attend the Hozhoogo Iina Wellness Center Grand Opening on Aug. 28, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Celebratory activities will take place in front of the old main clinic, within distance of the Wellness Center and the brand-new Medical Office Building (MOB), all on the WIHCC campus at 500 N. Indiana Avenue, located along Interstate-40 in Winslow.
A vital role for the Wellness Center is to serve as the new home of the WIHCC Diabetes Program. The program has expanded and strengthened in response to the growing diabetes epidemic throughout the American and Alaskan Indian Native populations.
The goal of the program, funded through the Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant (SDPI) and WIHCC, is to improve the control of diabetes and to promote a healthier lifestyle among the patient population. Currently there are about 1,900 diabetic patients within the service area of the healthcare center.
According to a project summary, Jaynel Graymountain, who has been the Diabetes Program director since 2012, participated in the design, layout and careful planning that would result in integrated clinical care in each space in the building.
"We like to say this is a prevention and management of diabetes wellness center," Graymountain said.
The new modular building includes the Diabetes Program Office, a screening room for private consultations with providers, four rooms for classes and other educational programs and a nutrition kitchen.
A room sure to be popular is the state-of-the-art fitness center, with 20 new fitness machines and four TVs. Also, just next door, is a spacious group fitness studio, complete with sound system and mirrors.
Terri Little, the fitness technician who will lead group classes and individual training sessions, will be on hand during the grand opening to show guests around the facilities.
"I've been trying all the equipment out, seeing what everything does, so I can tell people, and they don't hurt themselves," Little noted.
The leadership team at WIHCC wanted to create a space at the Wellness Center that would care for both pre-diabetic and diabetic patients, combat rising healthcare costs and reduce the need for hospitalization by helping members of the community make healthy choice and improve the quality of their lives.
"Being Native American, you're at risk for diabetes," Graymountain added. "It would be great if we could get everyone in the there moving, so we can prevent and manage diabetes. Having this center available, we hope have patients manage their condition with better numbers."
The Wellness Center grand opening, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 a.m. with a morning walk/run, sponsored by the WIHCC Health Promotion Disease Prevention Department.
Michelle Thomas, a local Native American recording artist from Indian Wells, Arizona will sing the National Anthem.
After the Posting of Colors by the Winslow Commission Corps, Dr. Frank Armao, WIHCC clinical director, will step up to his duties as Master of Ceremonies.
Other highlights will include an Opening Prayer by Jerry Freddie, a Dilkon resident and WIHCC Board of Directors member, and welcome addresses by Sally N. Pete, MSN, WIHCC chief executive officer, and Robert Salabye, president of the WIHCC Board of Directors.
The guest speaker will be Karen Bachman-Carter, SDPI project officer and a Navajo area diabetes consultant.
In addition to Graymountain, other speakers will include Lita Scott, FNP, a WIHCC provider, and Alfred Chee, the project manager for the Wellness Center.
Brian Laban, a martial arts master, will speak about "The Art of Prevention," especially in relation to exercise for the prevention of diabetes.
Singer Thomas will also provide live entertainment throughout the grand opening.
After a day of inspiration and fun, Johnny Nells, a Teesto resident and WIHCC Board of Directors member, will offer the closing prayer.
Additional activities include Wellness Center tours from 1 to 8 p.m., as well as group fitness classes every hour.
More information about the grand opening event is available from WIHCC at (928) 289-8065 or toll-free at 1-800-530-1430.