Group’s Lack of Hospital Stirs Recent Debate Over Indian Well being Service

Community’s Loss of Hospital Stirs Fresh Debate Over Indian Health Service

The hospital is operated nationwide by the Indian Health Service based in Rockville, Md. The agency was formed to meet the government’s contractual obligations to provide health services to eligible Alaskan Indians and natives.


Jan. 3, 2021, 1:42 AM ET

The Acoma Cañoncito Laguna service unit, 60 km west of Albuquerque, treats around 126,000 patients annually. Before the reduction in services, the company had 25 inpatient beds and looked after around 9,100 tribal citizens of the surrounding tribes. The hospital has been in operation since the mid-1970s and provides inpatient and outpatient care, as well as dental, optometric, pharmaceutical and medical emergency services.

Coronavirus cases for Acoma Pueblo, which has a population of around 3,000, have increased recently, including 100 in early November after no cases were reported in September.

The Albuquerque office is one of IHS ’12 service regions and serves 20 pueblos, two Apache bands, three Navajo chapters, and two Ute tribes in four southwestern states. There are five hospitals, 11 health centers and 12 field clinics serving the area’s residents.

Wendy Sarracino, 57, an Acoma community health worker, said when her son broke his leg, she had to stop at two hospitals before he could get the care he needed. At the time of his injury, the hospital of the Acoma Cañoncito Laguna service unit was already closed for that day, so Ms. Sarracino drove her son to Grants for 45 minutes.

After the hospital failed to diagnose the multiple fractures in her son’s legs, Ms. Sarracino drove him to Albuquerque for another hour. Grants Hospital found only a single fracture in her son’s leg, but an X-ray at Albuquerque Hospital found multiple fractures in both legs.

“That was kind of a lifeline,” Ms. Sarracino said of the hospital. “We didn’t have to go very far for health care. Awareness needs to be raised that the people of rural New Mexico live and that we need health care. “