Posts Tagged ‘Benewah Medical Center’

Mark Trahant is a Kaiser Media Fellow examining the Indian Health Service and its relevance to the national health care reform debate. He is a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and writes from Fort Hall, Idaho. Comment here.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

This past weekend the Coeur d’Alene Tribe celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Benewah Medical Center in Plummer, Idaho. “In 1987, the BMC Web site reports, “the Coeur d’Alene Tribe began to search for ways to improve the health care services at their small Indian Health Service satellite clinic. It was located at the Tribal Headquarters, several miles from the City of Plummer, Idaho. Many tribal members were dissatisfied with 15 years of fragmented care delivered in a semi-condemned building and with poor continuity of care.”

Indeed, the complaints about the IHS facility and its operation were similar to those heard across Indian Country. And, like many tribes, the Coeur d’Alene proceeded to create its own health care network. But this was a broader vision, one that went beyond just replacing and recreating IHS; there was also a sense of something new. Prevention was made a priority and a wellness center complimented patient care. There also was recognition of the gap in rural health care services. As Benewah Medical Center describes it: “None of the ambulatory care facilities in the four surrounding counties of the Northern Idaho town were providing services to the medically underserved on a sliding fee basis.”

So a tribal community health center was created – launching two decades of innovation.

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