IHS and Navajo Nation dedicate new health center

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PINON, Ariz. -- The Navajo Nation and the IHS, an agency of the Department
of Health and Human Services, held a dedication ceremony on Sept. 29 for
the new Pinon Health Center in Pinon, Ariz., which opened Oct. 3.

This new 68,288-square-foot health care center replaces a 4,898-square-foot
health station built in 1959 that had been operating on a part-time basis,
with staff traveling three to four days per week from the Chinle
Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Chinle, Ariz. The new center will
serve approximately 10,660 eligible American Indians residing in 16
communities in the center of the Navajo Nation, in a rural area where many
roads are of unimproved dirt construction and are often impassable --
making travel for medical or other purposes difficult.

"The increased scope of health care services made possible by this new
center can make a real difference in the health and wellness of the Navajo
tribal members living in this remote rural area," said Dr. Charles Grim,
IHS director. "The completion of this health center helps to address the
need in Indian country for new and replacement health care facilities with
the capacity to provide up-to-date health care services."

The nearly $40 million health center includes 62 new units for staff
housing, a sewage lagoon and a helipad. The new staff quarters will help
the recruitment and retention efforts for staffing the remotely located
health center.

The center was planned for 20,292 primary care provider visits and 40,523
outpatient visits annually. With an initial staff level of approximately
125 positions, it will provide outpatient services, including basic
medical, dental, optometry, radiology, laboratory and pharmacy services, as
well as part-time physical therapy and community health services (health
promotion, public health nursing, public health nutrition, environmental
health services, mental health services, and social services). The facility
will also house the Navajo Nation emergency medical services for the Pinon
region and other Navajo Nation community health programs.