The Puyallup Tribe began to operate one of the first Indian “Self Determination Clinics” in the nation nearly twenty years ago. Because of the closure of the Cushman Indian Hospital in 1959, Health Services, previous to that time, were no longer available to many members for general medical care.
Cushman Hospital provided services to Indians from Alaska and the entire Pacific Northwest including Montana, Oregon and Idaho. Gradually, the Public Health Service Unit cut service to only TB and then in the late 50s made a determination that TB hospitals were no longer necessary. Large numbers of our people lost valuable jobs that supported their families.
Services provided by the Public Health Service in the early 1970’s consisted of a mobile trailer that visited the reservation. They would pull into the tribal cemetery and set up their dental facility. Contract health care was available to a few, but the system did not address quality care. Problems regarding eligibility, fee schedules, and billing procedures were annoyances that seemed insurmountable to many tribal members. The lack of funds to carry out these services was an added obstacle.
To address the issues and needs of the tribe, Tribal Council appointed an Education and Health committee. A local funding agency provided positions for Community
Health Representatives. In 1974, funds became available to support the tribes medical clinic. For a number of years the health care needs of the tribe and the Indian community of Pierce County were addressed out a double-wide modular. For the first time in years health services became available to address the health concerns which were so prevalent.
The clinic, since 1985, has received the Accreditation by the Joint Commission of Accreditation Healthcare Organization. However, it was apparent that the facility could not accommodate the growing numbers. The Tribal Council began seeking funding to build a new facility to accommodate not only the Puyallup membership but also the large Indian population in Pierce County. It is estimated that this population exceeds 32,000 Native Americans.
After a number of years of actively seeking to meet this goal the dream became a reality. Today the Puyallup Tribe has a model clinic, one of the finest anywhere in the United States of America. Services are provided to over 10,000 people a year. There are over 120 different tribes represented in the service population. The clinic is open five days a week.
- Services include:
- Medical Laboratory Dental
- X-Ray Pharmacy
- Mental Health
- Managed Care
- Substance Abuse
- Traditional Healing
- Community Health & Nutrition
- Case Management
The tribal clinic employs professional staff and qualified licensed service providers and technicians to assist in providing a healthy community. There are currently 170 persons employed.