Spotlight: Ursula Knoki-Wilson gives healthy living tips in today’s world, through Navajo traditions

FLAGSTAFF — Native Americans for Community Action’s (NACA) Lasting Indigenous Family Enrichment presented “Healthy Living in Today’s World through Navajo Traditions,” by Ursula Knoki-Wilson Feb. 11 at Puente de Hozho Elementary School Gym in Flagstaff.

Ursula has promoted the integration of Navajo cultural concepts into health care practices over 30 years.

She serves as Community Relations Liaison Officer for the Office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Chinle Service Unit (CSU), Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS), Chinle, Arizona. She also served as Chief of Nurse Midwifery Service within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, CSU, NAIHS, from March 1996 to September 2013. From 2000 to 2013, she served as the IHS Chief Clinical Consultant for Advance Practice Nurses. She is certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board and licensed as a registered nurse and advanced nurse practitioner in Arizona.

Ursula has worked more than 30 years in promoting the integration of Navajo cultural concepts into health care practice for health care professionals.

From 1988 to 1996, Ursula coordinated efforts to make physical modifications of two birth rooms on the Obstetric Care Unit at Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility (CCHCF) so patients can choose to birth in a cultural preferred upright position, holding onto a sash belt hung from the ceiling and the marking of the east direction the ceiling of the patient’s bed for the traditional patients meditation orientation.

Since 1996 to 2016, she served as Chairperson of the Traditional Navajo Medicine Committee at Chinle Service Unit(CSU), Navajo Area Indian Health Service(NAIHS). In that capacity, she was instrumental in having a feasibility study done by two Harvard graduate students to use in a proposal to CSU Executive Committee about establishing an Office of Native Medicine and with approval, the first ONM was opened in December 2000 for patients to access traditional native medicine services. Since then, three other Navajo Area Healthcare Facilities have used Chinle’s template to establish Office of Native Medicine services. Ursula continues to assist with the development of policies and procedures for access to native healing services for all patients of all ages.

Most recently, she assisted a Traditional Work Group of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) (AZ Medicaid) to develop waiver language allowing for billing of traditional native healing services.

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