Giving Compass' Take:
- Tribal clinics are stepping up in some states to offer a range of services to pregnant women in need of reproductive healthcare.
- What are some of the barriers to rural tribal healthcare?
- Read about inequities in Native American health.
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When teacher Fredde Reed became pregnant with her first child in March, her choice for prenatal care was easy, she said.
“Being Native American enrolled, I can receive care at Indian Health Service,” said Reed, who is Eastern Shoshone. Reed and her wife weren’t initially certain they would stay with IHS through the birth. They wanted to explore other options in Fremont County.
But those options have dwindled significantly in recent years. Meanwhile, two clinics on the Wind River Indian Reservation — one run by IHS, a federal agency, along with Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, run by the Northern Arapaho tribe — have been building their maternal care services.
So at IHS, Reed established care with Dr. Matt Graf, a family practitioner with obstetrics training, and was assigned what felt like a whole team of staffers to keep track of her pregnancy. She also found resources through the clinic to connect with other expecting mothers.
“They are building a really good program to support moms,” Reed said. “Especially women who don’t have a lot of support.”
Reed’s experience is notable in this New Hampshire-sized county of nearly 40,000, where non-tribal residents have a single obstetric practice to visit for prenatal and delivery care. Many women travel long distances for prenatal care and to deliver because they are uncomfortable with just one option and the likelihood it creates for delivering with an on-call traveling doctor.
On the Wind River Indian Reservation, meanwhile, IHS and Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, commonly known as Wind River Cares, have made targeted efforts to ensure they meet the pregnancy and labor-related needs of their Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho patients.
“I think in a lot of ways … [our patients] have more resources than the general community does,” said Dr. Laura Gibbons, who is part of a maternal health team at Wind River Cares.
Read the full article about tribal clinics by Katie Klingsporn at The19th.