Tribal Organizations Get $55 Million for Ambulatory Care

he Small Ambulatory Program serves as a cornerstone in enhancing outpatient services for patients within tribal communities. (photo/Canva Pro)
he Small Ambulatory Program serves as a cornerstone in enhancing outpatient services for patients within tribal communities. (photo/Canva Pro)
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In a significant move to bolster healthcare infrastructure for Native American tribes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), via the Indian Health Service (IHS), has allocated $55 million in funding to 15 tribes and tribal organizations.

This funding is part of the competitive Small Ambulatory Program, aimed at supporting the construction, expansion, or modernization of small ambulatory healthcare facilities.

"HHS recognizes the critical need for tribal partners to have access to culturally appropriate, quality healthcare, particularly in terms of preventative services for chronic diseases," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release. "Through investments in the construction, expansion, and modernization of small ambulatory healthcare facilities, we are striving to address this need effectively."

The Small Ambulatory Program serves as a cornerstone in enhancing outpatient services for patients within tribal communities. These services encompass a spectrum of offerings, including the introduction of new services, enhancements to existing ones, and the modernization of outdated facilities. Notably, 95 percent of tribally operated healthcare facilities primarily deliver ambulatory services, which are crucial for providing preventive care for chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Among the funded projects are modernization efforts for existing facilities, such as those undertaken by the Chugachmiut tribe in Alaska and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. Additionally, several tribes, including the Susanville Indian Rancheria in California and the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe in Nevada, are slated to receive funding for the construction of replacement facilities, providing updated and expanded healthcare infrastructure.

Other initiatives include the construction of new satellite facilities, such as those planned by the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota and the Utah Navajo Health System in Utah. These satellite facilities are designed to extend healthcare services to more remote areas within tribal lands.

Expansion projects, like those undertaken by the Seneca Nation of Indians in New York and the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, will increase the capacity of existing facilities to meet the growing healthcare needs of tribal members.

Additionally, these ambulatory care settings operated by tribes and tribal organizations play a central role in increasing access to culturally appropriate, quality healthcare. By tailoring services to the unique needs and cultural backgrounds of Native American communities, these facilities contribute significantly to improving health outcomes and overall well-being.

Native American communities often experience higher rates of chronic diseases and face barriers to accessing quality healthcare services due to factors such as geographic isolation, limited resources, and historical inequities, according to a study from KFF.

About the Author: "Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq\/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. "

Contact: kberg@indiancountrymedia.com