Chinle celebrates expansion of veterans services
Northern Arizona VA Health Care System to provide 5-day-a-week, face-to-face primary care

Leadership representatives of the Northern Arizona Veteran Affairs Healthcare System, VA’s Desert Pacific Healthcare Network, Indian Health Service, Navajo Nation, Office of Tribal Government, Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council and QTC participate in a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate an expansion of services at Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System clinic in Chinle Jan. 22. (Photo/NAVAHCS)

Leadership representatives of the Northern Arizona Veteran Affairs Healthcare System, VA’s Desert Pacific Healthcare Network, Indian Health Service, Navajo Nation, Office of Tribal Government, Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council and QTC participate in a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate an expansion of services at Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System clinic in Chinle Jan. 22. (Photo/NAVAHCS)

CHINLE, Ariz. — In a bid to enhance healthcare accessibility in Indigenous communities, the Northern Arizona Veteran Health Care System (NAVAHCS) has broadened its service offerings, with its rural health clinic in Chinle now operating in-person services five days a week.

Marking this milestone, NAVAHCS hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the clinic Jan. 22. The event saw leadership figures from the Veterans Health Administration, Indian Health Service, and Navajo Nation. Navajo Nation Veterans Administration Director Bobbie Ann Baldwin spoke to some the challenges that veterans in Chinle and surrounding areas face when accessing healthcare.

photo

Navajo Nation Veterans Administration Director Bobbie Ann Baldwin speaks at the NAVAHCS grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony in Chinle Jan. 22. (Photo/NAVAHCS)

“One of the things that our veterans face each and every day is getting to the clinic out in Phoenix, out in Albuquerque, out in Salt Lake City,” Baldwin said. “But now we have a clinic here in our backyard where we’ll be able to receive the services that we so desperately need. Only having to travel 10 miles versus 300-plus miles is going to make a vast difference in our lives.”

Kevin Gaines, Chief Medical Officer for Navajo Area Indian Health Service, expressed how important healthcare improvements like these are to veterans in the area.

“I’m excited and pleased anytime we can expand or provide advanced services to our veterans, particularly those who have served in combat,” Gaines said. “Sometimes service and sacrifice continue even beyond the time that the service ends for those who have been traumatized through their combat experiences, so I welcome the expanded clinic here and future expanded benefits that we can provide for those who have served our country.”

photo

Dozens showed up to the NAVAHCS ribbon cutting ceremony in Chinle Jan. 22 (Photo/NAVAHCS)

For years now, the VA has been hard at working to find sustainable solutions to the healthcare gap that has been evident for Native and rural veterans throughout the country.

This step by NAVAHCS to bring consistent face-to-face healthcare services directly to the Native and rural veterans it serves is one of the first efforts of its kind in the nation.

Bryan Arnette, Deputy Director of the VA’s Desert Pacific Healthcare Network – the regional office that includes northern Arizona – said the VA hopes to use NAVAHCS’s success as a blueprint for other VA healthcare systems.

“This is a milestone we get to celebrate that helps us figure out how we might replicate this for our Native and rural health communities across the country,” Arnette said.

Later this year, NAVAHCS will be introducing the same enhanced healthcare services to its clinics in Kayenta, Polacca and Tuba City. Similar grand opening ceremonies will be hosted for each of the locations once those opening dates are determined.

Donate to nhonews.com Report a Typo Contact
Most Read