Having a baby means lots of prenatal visits to the doctor. For many Native American residents of Flagstaff, that can mean a lot of trips back and forth to Tuba City.
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation is making that trip a bit shorter. The nonprofit’s Sacred Peaks Health Center in Flagstaff recently started offering obstetric services to Native American moms-to-be.
“We’ve always offered gynecological services and just started offering prenatal care here about four to five months ago,” said Kathleen Harner, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the center. “We provide the same services here that our Flagstaff moms can get in Tuba City, without the two-hour drive.”
The only obstetric service not provided by Sacred Peaks is labor and delivery, said Holly Alfrey-VanDyk, the medical director for Sacred Peaks. That service is reserved for the Tuba City hospital.
The services provided by Sacred Peaks and the Tuba City hospital are limited to patients who can prove they have Native American blood by a tribal registration card, Alfrey-VanDyk said. The services are free of charge to Native American patients, but the clinic and hospital do take insurance. The money from the insurance payments is used to provide better services at both the clinic and the hospital.
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation is a nonprofit that is run by the Navajo Nation. The mission of the nonprofit corporation is to provide culturally sensitive medical care to its Native American patients.
“The majority of our staff at the clinic is Native American,” Alfrey-VanDyk said. “We opened this clinic in Flagstaff about six years ago because there was such a demand for services.”
Sacred Peaks is designed to be a routine care and non-urgent primary care clinic for its patients, with some out-patient specialties such as internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and gynecology, physical therapy, dermatology, neurology, orthopedics, mental health services and optometry. The specialists rotate through the clinic on a regular basis each month.
It also has a pharmacy that takes prescriptions for patients that have doctors outside of the clinic, as well as prescriptions from the clinic’s doctors. The pharmacy has a unique partnership with Flagstaff Medical Center, where it will deliver a supply of needed medications to a Native American patient who is being discharged from the Flagstaff hospital.
The clinic has a program that combines a nutritionist with a physical therapist to help patients control their diabetes. The first group of four patients in the program, who graduated recently, saw an average weight loss of about 14 pounds over three months, along with better blood sugar numbers. Regular access to the equipment in the clinic’s physical therapy room, has allowed these patients to keep those gains.
The demand for services at the clinic has grown by 10 to 12 percent each year, she said. It is now at the point that Tuba City Regional Health Care is looking at opening another clinic on the west side of Flagstaff within the next year.
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation also has a clinic in LeChee that provides a more limited number of services, family and internal medicine and a pharmacy for residents than what is available at Sacred Peaks.