Across the United States, recent years have seen growing recognition of the need to explore new models to expand access to health care. While the movement toward fulfilling the promise of health as a human right may have stalled among politicians, Native communities in the Pacific Northwest are forging innovative models, in ways that may offer valuable insights to the national discussion.
In recent decades, various Native health care systems throughout Washington have transformed how they deliver care by expanding their patient population to include not just tribal members, but the surrounding non-Native community as well. In order to successfully broaden the scope of their health care services, these systems have had to employ creative techniques to address the medical, financial, and administrative issues that come along with expanded services. As a result, many have become the sole providers of care in their communities, and therefore offer a chance to evaluate the potential efficacy of single-provider systems in non-urban areas.
This research project, led by UWCHR Faculty Associate Aaron Katz and Master of Public Health student Celia McTigue, is conducted in partnership with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board with support from the UWCHR and other sources. Research from this past year yielded an analysis revealing important lessons about the role of expanded patient populations, public funding mechanisms, and tribal accountability in Washington tribal health clinics serving Native and non-Native patients.
Project collaborators, including Kimberly Thompson (Executive Director, Shoalwater Bay Wellness Center) and Alexandria “Ali” Desautel (Executive Director, Lake Roosevelt Community Health Centers), were featured participants in the UWCHR’s spring symposium, “NW Tribal Leadership: Re-envisioning Access to Healthcare” on May 10, 2018. Other participants included Prof. Stephanie Fryberg (UW American Indian Studies & Psychology) and moderator, Aaron Katz. Special thanks to Celia and Prof. Bonnie Duran (Social Work & IWRI) for their assistance and guidance with this panel event.
Sponsors for the event included: Center for Global Studies of the Jackson School, Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, American Indian Studies, American Indian Student Commission, Native American Law Center and wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House.