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Agency ready to help rural residents

Joyce Hollister, staff writer

Native Americans – indeed anyone of any race – may obtain health information and services through a 25-year-old organization based in Reno.

Nevada Urban Indians Inc. has been serving the needs of off-reservation Native Americans and others since 1975, and people in the Carson City-Carson Valley area are welcome to the services it offers at the office in Carson City, according to new deputy director Mark McDonald.

“We’ve always had an office down there,” McDonald said, “but now we’re trying to expand, and we’re developing a marketing program specifically for the Carson City area.”

Native Americans in Carson Valley and the Woodfords, Calif., area are among the targeted populations.

“Gardnerville clients can call the Carson City office,” he said, “and we can put them in touch with the coordinator of the specific program. That person would set up a schedule to meet with them for an intake and develop a personalized program. It would be most convenient to meet in the Carson City office but if that is not possible, we can be flexible.

“Our philosophy is to provide health education programs and health services as well as general education services through the Johnson O’Malley program.”

The agency’s six major programs offer a wide variety of services to Native Americans and others, he said.

– The community health program needs a nurse to coordinate services, and the agency is at present interviewing nurses for the position. When the nurse-coordinator is hired in October, the agency’s complete health programs will be up and running.

The program right now presents a number of educational programs, but is waiting for the new nurse to resume its health services, including a visiting nurse service, home health care, diabetes checks and elder visits. The prenatal program and diabetes screening will also have to wait for the new nurse, McDonald said.

Any nurse in the area who is interested in the position may call the office at 788-7600 in Reno.

Among the programs that are currently offered are outreach and referral, transportation to health care appointments and health and AIDS education, as well as imumunization clinics for children.

– The alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment program is coordinated by Steve Derrick and focuses on prevention, education and outreach patient treatment. This program offers assessments, education sessions, individual counseling, group counseling, treatment outreach and referral services.

A new project that is in the works, McDonald said, is a DUI school that will be coordinated by Derrick.

– The victims of crime program is coordinated by Lyndi Frost, whose assistant is Kirsten Sherve. It is funded through federal, state and local grants and offers emergency shelter housing assistance, 24-hour crisis call line, food, clothing and employment assistance, court and justice system advocacy, domestic violence prevention education, life skills workshops and outreach and referral.

– The mental health program is coordinated by Beverly Harvey. This program provides outpatient mental health services to individuals and families. Services include individual and family counseling, group counseling, culturally relevant workshops, outreach activities, cultural workshops for non-Indian mental health professionals, case management, referral assistance, anger management and parenting classes.

– The HIV/AIDS program focus is on Native Americans who may be at risk. Services include outreach intervention, family-based HIV and community program counseling, referrals, prevention education and case management. The program is coordinated by Susie Spotted Horse.

– The Johnson O’Malley program is an education program for Native American students. The goal is to lower dropout rates, provide tutoring and academic counseling, assist with counseling for higher education and vocational and career planning, promote parental involvement in educational and act as a liaison for families and school, offer peer assistance and promote cultural awareness.

This program is currently without a coordinator; however, MacDonald said a new one will be on board in October.

All services are free.

Each of the coordinators spends one day a week in the Carson City office and potential clients may call to set up a time to meet with them.

According to executive director Janet Reeves, a Minden resident, Nevada Urban Indians Inc. was authorized by the U.S. Congress through the Indian Health Improvement Act, Title V, to provide services for Native Americans who had left the reservations for big cities to find employment and educational opportunities.

“I think that once the results of the Census 2000 are in, we will begin to see there is close to 68 or 69 percent of Native Americans who live off the reservation, much of that because of economic reasons,” Reeves said.

Though many tribes operate health services and programs on their reservations, they can only operate within their boundaries, she said. Nevada Urban Indians Inc. is designed to fill in the gaps.

Reeves said the agency also operates a food closet and will sponsor a victims of crime conference this Saturday in Reno.

Volunteers play a big part in the agency’s programs, and anyone who would like to volunteer may contact McDonald at the Reno office.

The Carson City office is operated by certified nursing assistant Stephanie Reeves, who is well known in the Carson City area, according to the executive director.

The Carson City office number is 883-4439, and the toll-free number is (888) 885-8447; e-mail, info@urbanindians.org.