Indian Health Service Stops Funding for Fresno, Calif., Health Center
The federal Indian Health Service has informed the Fresno Native American Health Center that it will not renew its $330,000 contract to serve an estimated 13,000 American Indians living in Fresno County, Calif., the AP/San Luis Obispo Tribune reports (AP/San Luis Obispo Tribune, 1/25). The health center -- which provides referrals to doctors and counsels American Indians on diabetes, substance abuse, nutrition and other health issues -- will close Friday. An IHS official said the center lost its funding because it had too few patients and did not have a public health nurse. Paul Redeagle, deputy director of IHS in California, said the center's "performance was unsatisfactory and (we) made the decision not to renew the contract." Redeagle added, "We are hopeful we can re-establish a program" in the Fresno region. Virginia Sutter, executive director of the center, said that the center had documentation to prove that it saw 5,000 clients in 2006 and part of 2005, which she said was enough to meet IHS' expectations. Sutter said that the center hired a public health nurse, but IHS rejected the hire. After the center's closure, the closest IHS urban health centers will be in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Redeagle said eligible patients will be able to obtain care at Central Valley Indian Health Clinic, a tribal clinic in Clovis, Calif. (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 1/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.