Washoe Health Clinic receives national award
Only two-dozen tribal health clinics or individuals are recognized with local impact awards by the National Indian Health Board, and this year the Washoe Tribe Health Center was one of them.
“The award recognizes changes or processes that have made positive impacts to health care delivery to American Indians and Alaskan natives on a local tribal level,” according to board officials.
On Friday, Washoe Tribal Health Center Director Angie Wilson talked about the challenges facing tribal members.
“We are on the cutting edge of completely revising what health care looks like in American Indian tribal communities,” she said. “The Washoe Tribe is active, it’s committed and looking at the barriers in our community.”
Wilson said American Indians have the highest levels of chronic diseases in the country, something she’d like to see turn around.
“We have a responsibility to advocate for them,” she said of tribal members. “And a responsibility locally to make that happen.”
She said that while most people think health care is free to American Indians, that’s not so.
“People think, ‘Oh, you Indians, you get free health care,’” she said. “There is nothing further from the truth. There is a federal trust responsibility for education, housing and health care. Health care is Only funded by Indian Health Services at 52 percent of our tribal healthcare need. I probably will never see the day Indian Health Services will be able to commit 100 percent funding to tribes.”
She said the Washoe are having an impact across the State of California where payments to tribes were often delayed.
Because of Washoe’s advocacy as a cross-border tribe, we advocated with California to make quick payments to help the tribes sustain their health systems,” she said. “We changed the entire reimbursement process for all California tribes. We used our tribal voice to create better access.”
Wilson said the Washoe Tribal Health Center has developed a positive working relationship with Nevada Medicaid.
According to Wilson, there were 17,836 visits to the health center in 2017, which was down from 2016, when there were 22,652.
the number of visits was down in 2017 because the center was working on the recruitment and retention of providers, Credentialing Coordinator Roseanne Kizer said. During this year, the center stabilized by obtaining full-time tribally hired providers.
The health center is located in Dresslerville.