Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Arizona Rep Hale discusses healthcare issues facing Native American and rural communities at recent conference

PHOENIX Rep. Albert Hale, D-St Michaels (District 7), recently spoke about healthcare issues facing Native American and rural communities at a conference hosted by the Arizona Medicare-for-All Coalition in Phoenix.

Conference organizers, Dr. Mary Ellen Bradshaw and Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch, said in a joint statement that Hale’s contributions to the event provided much needed insight into the healthcare situation within many of the communities Hale represents.

“We appreciated Rep. Hale’s comments, as did the others who attended the conference. He was inspirational making many excellent points about the problems rural Native Americans had during his youth, and continue to have today, with hospitals and clinics many miles and hours away from the places people live.  He spoke of the fact that frequently the doctors were unaware of the hardships faced by their patients. The information Rep. Hale shared was inspiring and revealing,” they said. “It was well-received by the audience. We are grateful for his willingness, and the willingness of so many other community leaders, to participate and engage at an in-depth level on such important and complex issues.”

The conference on May 21 focused on debunking myths associated with Arizona’s health system, and provided a review of the public health system and a review of some of the state’s requirements to provide care for those who are in the most need. Hale provided perspective on healthcare within the communities he represents at the Arizona Legislature.

“The challenges for healthcare in Arizona rural communities and Indian nations remain the same as when I was growing up on the Navajo Nation. The communities and nations are often in low-income areas where roads are not paved and the distances to the nearest healthcare facility are miles away. The healthcare facilities do not always have medical professionals who can provide the care that may be needed,” Hale said. “Getting the care needed can be difficult because of these restraints.”

He added that cost can also create barriers for accessing healthcare, which can complicate medical needs.

“Just getting to the healthcare facility and complying with referrals to other facilities involve costs that put undue burdens on families. These are some of the factors that cause people in rural communities and Indian nations to delay getting the medical attention they need. Sometimes, the delay can cause the affliction to progress so the treatment becomes more costly,” Hale said.

Hale concluded by calling on the government and healthcare professionals to work with the community to find solutions to the healthcare issues within Native American and rural communities.

“The future of healthcare in rural communities and Indian nations depends on the action we take together on all of these contributing factors,” Hale said. “Each must be addressed because ensuring our people are healthy is vital to ensuring our future is healthy.”
Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.