The Arapahoe Health Clinic is a new facility serving over 6,000 tribal patients. Clinic officials are making plans for the future, but that future is not without challenges.
The Arapahoe Health Clinic, which opened its doors in January, is not a part of Indian Health Services.
Richard Brannan, CEO of Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, explains, “We can react more quickly to the needs of our patients. We don’t have to go through the bureaucracy to make it work.”
Brannan says he wants to provide as many services as he can, but the money isn’t there.
“The issue is about 50 percent of our population have no third-party resources we can bill. Therefore, our system is stymied—we can’t grow, and we can’t expand services due to lack of funding,” Brannan said.
It all comes down to Medicaid. If Medicaid expansion is approved for Wyoming, Brannan says he’d have the money to upgrade and expand the clinic’s services.
“One of each profession is simply not enough,” Acting Clinical Director Brian Oland said, “so as we’re able to grow the services here, that means more access. We can hire more professionals and always have those services available, every day, for patients.”
Brannan explained further, “I would be able to hire the professionals that I need to have a fully functioning, proactive preventive healthcare program.”
The clinic does offer guidance for people who don’t have insurance and don’t know how to get it.
“We’re educating the patient population about the services we can provide. So as we grow these services, we want the patients to know and learn what we can do for them as far as preventative health or getting medications,” Oland said.
Brannan already knows what he’ll do when the money is there. “The first thing I want to do is purchase a mobile clinic, which will allow me to take the services out to our patients,” he said.
Brannan says any money the clinic makes from Medicaid will go directly back into providing better quality care. But the politics are going too slowly according to Brannan, and Native Americans are suffering because of it.