about time' for a hogan at GIMC
Last week, Indian Health Services officials opened a new
hogan at the Gallup Indian Medical Center with a blessing and dedication
ceremony. The hogan is located on the southwest side of the hospital,
and GIMC staff said the most heard comment has been, "It's about
this year complaints were being made that GIMC was not providing
traditional medicine options. Now the GIMC has opened the $18,000
hogan and is constructing two sweat lodges which should open in
than that, the medical center is also establishing an Office of
Native Medicine and a traditional Navajo practitioner is scheduled
to join the staff next week.
bringing traditional medicine to collaborate with Western medicine,"
GIMC Chief Executive Officer Bennie C. Yazzie said. He added that
the IHS leadership in Rockville, Md., is pushing for all facilities
to provide traditional health care options.
he became acting CEO, Yazzie decided the construction of a hogan
should be pursued, and in September 2007, he got the traditional
medicine committee back together, appointing staff members from
a variety of disciplines.
the longest time, people were asking for a facility like this,"
was one of only two Navajo Area IHS hospitals that did not have
a hogan on site and the only one without a sweat lodge. Even the
Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services and NCI have those
types of facilities, Yazzie said.
were sort of the last one joining the program," Yazzie said.
traditional health care is important because of the significant
health disparities among Native Americans, Dr. Adriann Begay said.
opportunity to build such a hogan came from a Las Cruces couple
Begay and her husband knew. When Cookie Cleaver passed away, one
of her last wishes was to donate money to the hospital where Begay
works. Doug Cleaver contacted Begay about his wife's wish and became
the major contributor for the construction of the hogan.
said that the hogan is available now for anyone that requests to
use it. It's also open beyond normal hours.
patient now can have access to this facility and their practitioner
doesn't have to worry about taking their jish (medicine bag) into
the hospital. They can come over here and wait for the patient to
be brought over," Yazzie said.
The hogan has already been used by the GIMC staff.
this week, the staff lost a young nurse to an automobile accident
and services were provided there for those who wanted to use it.
have pointed out that the hogan is traditionally located on the
north side of the home, but Yazzie said GIMC simply doesn't have
the land to do that. However, the hogan is still a welcome addition
for the medical center.
Michael Arviso, who is on the traditional medicine committee, the
facility is a good thing to help him reconnect to his culture.
me, being a younger person, I see it as a good thing to get back
to our culture and not losing that part of ourselves that is instilled
in us since we were born," he said.
said the hogan is needed because traditional practitioners are often
hesitant to go into a hospital.
"The main reason is that there's a concept in the Navajo tradition
that a hospital where people get well and others die is not a good
place to have your practitioner to be working on the patient," he
practitioner is an important part of traditional medicine and one
will be on staff soon.
of the benefits of having a traditional practitioner on staff is
to increase cultural sensitivity at the hospital. One example is
that the practitioner hired will provide cultural sensitivity training
for staff who are not from around here or have not worked with many
practitioner will most likely also have a role such as those within
Chinle Service Unit, which the GIMC has been working with recently
in developing its Native medicine program.
said that Chinle has many success stories and he was very impressed
with the role of the practitioner in the treatment of the patient.
to them, once a patient works with a Western doctor, that patient
can be referred to a practitioner who could also work with them,
especially if they have questions why they are given certain medication,"
Yazzie said. "The practitioner would actually take the time to explain
using the Navajo way of explaining, like the bodily function and
why the medication was prescribed. Through that the involvement
of the practitioner we understand patients, especially the
elderly patients, they're more adherent to taking their medication."
Baja Alchesay, chair of the traditional medicine committee, said,
"The hogan is part of a bigger dream and a vision of the staff.
It will be under an Office of Native Medicine that was also designed
and planned by the traditional medicine committee with support from
the executive staff through Mr. Yazzie here."
who want to use the services of a Native practitioner but don't
know one can be helped by the Office of Native Medicine, Yazzie
said. The plan is to get a registry with local practitioners.
other plan is for the GIMC to complete the construction of the two
sweat lodges, also on the southwestern side of the hospital.
Taliman, who is also on the traditional medicine committee, said
that using the sweat lodge can help patients who need counseling.
one of the things that we thought we need," he said. "There is a
big demand for sweat lodges."
of those demands comes from behavioral health, Begay said.
said that Gallup isn't on the reservation and there are many young
people in the area who cannot make it home but want to participate
in a sweat ceremony.
goal with the new facilities and Office of Native Medicine is mostly
to provide services for Native Americans, since IHS is for all Native
Americans. The GIMC serves patients who are Navajo, Zuni, Hopi,
Laguna, White Mountain Apache and many other tribes.