ISSUE: Lack of available Oncology Specialty Services for the Navajo Reservation
BACKGROUND: There is an urgent need for Oncology Specialty services in the Navajo Nation. There are no available services for Navajo Native Americans, who require diagnostic, interventional therapeutic treatments for cancer diagnoses, cancer surgical inventions, cancer chemotherapy and cancer radiation therapy. There are over 550+ Uranium Mines that leach into the ground in Northern Arizona. These mines contribute to the cancer rate in the Navajo Nation.
• The poverty rate is 43 percent; double that of Mississippi, which is the worst among the 50 states. Navajo unemployment hovers at 42 percent, which is six times that of Alaska, who has the highest unemployment rate among the states. The median household income of $20,005 is so low, that nearly every Navajo family qualifies for food stamps.
• Imagine, as a patient you are urgently hospitalized and you have never been in the hospital and you don’t speak English
o After a number of tests, the doctor tells you the good news your hip is not broken,
but you do have cancer, which is not an uncommon diagnosis on the reservation. He also explains that there is no treatment on the reservation. You will have to find a way to get to the city and a place to stay for your cancer treatment! In many cases, the patient does not get treatment and may not survive.
• Primary cancers on the Navajo Reservation:
o Colon, Stomach, Liver, Breast and Gynecological Cancers
• Significant issues:
o No available medical services; difficulty with access to support resources for transportation, temporary housing and meals for families of hospitalized patients receiving cancer treatment therapies, who are sent to urban healthcare facilities (Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque)
o Lack of available Navajo translation resources at urban healthcare facilities (Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque)
o Failed attempts to provide culturally sensitive care with respect to unique Navajo traditions and traditional medicine healing practices
• Comprehensive Oncology Services; funding allocations to support the development, construction and implementation of a regional oncology diagnostic, and therapeutic treatment center, on the Navajo Reservation to serve all tribal residents locally
• Funding to support family needs, while accompanying patients receiving oncology services (temporary housing, meals, and transportation)
• Financial support for oncology pharmacology costs associated with oncology services
• Present case for Specialty Care Clinic Construction and fund through Facilities Advisory Board at I.H.S. Headquarters