Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation's CEO Lynette Bonar receives C2 Catalyst for Change Award
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Tuba City Regional Health Care Center’s CEO Lynette Bonar received the Cancer Community (C2) Catalyst for Change award in October for her work improving access to cancer care for underserved populations.
Bonar, with help from partners, established the first and only cancer clinic on any American Indian reservation and she is the first woman to be in charge of a Navajo health care system.
Before June 2019, Navajo, Hopi and Paiute patients had to travel at least 200 miles roundtrip to recieve cancer care.
The facilty that Bonar established combines traditional healing with modern medicine. Staff speak Navajo, as well.Bonar said 60 percent of the population the center sees believe in traditional medicine and the staff recognizes and honors that in all of their interactions with patients.
Bonar said it was essential to make sure there was a cancer center in Tuba City because of the many stories she heard from community members about the difficulty getting cancer treatment, whether that was the distance, they didn’t have gas money to make it to town or whether they knew how important it was to get their treatments.
“They’d wait and unfortunately the place we’d find cancer patients was when they’d had emergencies and they were in the ER,” Bonar said.
In the time the cancer center has been open, it has had 1,200 to 1,300 visits.
“We’ve seen people who may have never gotten care in a timely manner,” Bonar said.
Bonar said she was emotional receiving the award and during the video that was played.
“I’m honored and humbled,” Bonar said. “I think it was really good to show the staff. It’s not really just about me, it’s about the whole team and organization.”
Currently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients are tested before entering the facility. Bonar said there has been only one patient who tested positive, about a month ago, and that patient stopped her care.
“Fortunately, she wasn’t one who has a severe illness, so when she got through it, she started her cancer care again,” Bonar said.
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