Blog: National Partnership for Action
Providing comprehensive and culturally-sensitive health care to Indian people in Tulsa
Posted on 5/29/2012 by Russell Burkhart
Cultural values, traditions and language not only define a people, but also influence the health of individuals and communities. Because culture matters, culturally competent care is a key ingredient in eliminating health disparities that affect many minority and low income communities.
For decades now, Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa (IHCRC), a non-profit health care facility that provides comprehensive health services, has been at the forefront of offering such culturally competent care to the Tulsa urban Indian community.
It was formed in 1976 after a survey revealed the health needs of Tulsa’s Indians were not being met. The mission of the IHCRC since its founding has been to provide quality, comprehensive health care to Tulsa area Indian people in a manner that is culturally sensitive and easily accessible and that promotes good health, well-being and harmony through services such as medical care, health education and wellness, dental care, optometry, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment and pharmacy services.
Our overall health promotion goal is to improve general health status and reduce the incidence and severity of chronic disease by engaging the Indian community in ongoing health promotion and disease prevention programs.
The organization is strongly committed to maintaining continuity of care and addressing individual health care needs. As the family is recognized as the traditional and most important basic social unit in American Indian communities, providers at IHCRC are sensitive to cultural beliefs and practices.
Through the understanding of the importance that culture plays on health, the vision of IHCRC is to eliminate health disparities, expand innovative family-focused practices and promote an embracing approach to care that strengthens physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness within the Indian community.
Thus far, IHCRC has had notable success. To date, the IHCRC provides comprehensive health care to more than 17,000 unduplicated members of over 150 federally recognized tribes. In the fall of 2010, we received a federal grant, "Partnerships Active in Communities to Achieve Health Equity," from the Office of Minority Health (OMH).
The overall goal of the three-year "Tulsa Healthy Pathways" project is to improve outcomes for Tulsa’s at-risk minority populations in the areas of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, areas of particular concern among Native American populations. Contractual community partnerships facilitate physical fitness activities, nutrition education, cooking classes, community gardening, neighborhood outreach and health screenings.
Other IHCRC services also improve the health status of the community. Women’s health services offered at Indian Health Care include mammography, prenatal and postpartum care and family planning. Other adult medical care support services include tobacco cessation, parenting classes, monthly Nurturing Families community health talks. In addition to medical, dental and behavioral health care, adults at IHCRC can receive diabetes and cardiovascular chronic disease management care. Marital, family and individual behavioral health services are offered to women and men.
With attention paid to the critical role that culture plays on individual and community health, IHCRC strives to improve health by helping to remove some of the barriers that prevent people from living a healthy life.
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The NPA works to achieve health equity -- the highest level of health for all people. This blog is a venue for professionals from all fields and sectors to share their thoughts on pressing issues, news and events pertaining to health equity. Follow and participate in this candid discussion.
About the Author
Russell Burkhart has been the Director of Planning and Development at Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa since 1996. His career in public health spans the last 19 years and includes work in coalition building, community planning, grant proposal writing and producing evaluation reports and health communication publications. He is also an active in a number of local sustainable food initiatives and serves as president of the nonprofit Pearl Farmers Market.
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