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Chinle VA Clinic Now Providing 5-Day-A-Week Primary Care Services

Chinle VA Clinic Ribbon Cutting
Leadership from the VA Desert Pacific Healthcare Network (VISN 22), Northern Arizona VA Health Care System (NAVAHCS), and Navajo Nation participate in ribbon cutting ceremony, Jan. 22 to celebrate the grand opening of the new Chinle VA Clinic.

The Northern Arizona VA Health Care System (NAVAHCS) is officially providing reliable 5-day-a-week, face-to-face primary care services at its rural health clinic located in Chinle.

To celebrate the significant expansion of services, NAVAHCS hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at the clinic on Monday, Jan. 22. Leadership representatives from the Veterans Health Administration, Indian Health Service and Navajo Nation all spoke during the event to acknowledge the accomplishment.

“This is a huge step in making good on our obligation to serve our Native Veterans as well as they’ve served us and our country,” said Steve Sample, NAVAHCS’s Medical Center Director.

Navajo Nation Veterans Administration Director Bobbie Ann Baldwin specifically spoke to some the challenges that Veterans in Chinle and surrounding areas face when accessing healthcare. 

“One of the things that our Veterans face each and every day is getting to the clinic out in Phoenix, out in Albuquerque, out in Salt Lake City,” Baldwin said. “But now we have a clinic here in our backyard where we’ll be able to receive the services that we so desperately need. Only having to travel 10 miles versus 300-plus miles is going to make a vast difference in our lives.” 

Kevin Gaines, Chief Medical Officer for Navajo Area Indian Health Service, expressed how important healthcare improvements like these are to Veterans in the area. 

“I’m excited and pleased anytime we can expand or provide advanced services to our Veterans, particularly those who have served in combat,” Gaines said.  “Sometimes service and sacrifice continue even beyond the time that the service ends for those who have been traumatized through their combat experiences, so I welcome the expanded clinic here and future expanded benefits that we can provide for those who have served our country.”   

For years now, the VA has been hard at work to find sustainable solutions to the healthcare gap that has been evident for Native and rural Veterans throughout the country. 

This step by NAVAHCS to bring consistent face-to-face healthcare services directly to the Native and rural Veterans it serves is one of the first efforts of its kind in the nation. 

Bryan Arnette, Deputy Director of the VA’s Desert Pacific Healthcare Network – the regional office that includes Northern Arizona – said the VA hopes to use NAVAHCS’s success as a blueprint for other VA healthcare systems. 

“This is a milestone we get to celebrate that helps us figure out how we might replicate this for our Native and rural health communities across the country,” Arnette said.  

Later this year, NAVAHCS will be introducing the same enhanced healthcare services to its clinics in Kayenta, Polacca and Tuba City. Similar grand opening ceremonies will be hosted for each of the locations once those opening dates are determined. 

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