A new native-run health clinic opened Thursday afternoon in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, integrating traditional Indian therapies with complete medical, pharmacy, behavioral health and substance use treatment services.
Located near the corner of Yesler Way, the 3,000-square-foot clinic at 122 Second Ave. S. serves the Seattle Indian Health Board, the Chief Seattle Club, and a number of community partners and elected officials of the city and state. Clinic leaders hope the space will invite both native and non-native patients, they said Thursday.
“Our communities have been deprived of government services for too long,” said Chief Seattle Club Executive Director Derrick Bellegarde at the grand opening. We know that fulfillment requires a culturally responsive approach.…Indigenous people empower them to serve.We know what works for our communities.”
“For our members, having food, shelter and medicine under the same roof, brought in by their own people, is a dream come true,” he said in a statement.
The clinic also provides case management services to address housing and food insecurity, among other needs. Additionally, a mobile van will provide weekly dental services, according to clinic leaders.
“We can do some ceremonies like talk circles, sweat lodges and taiko drumming. [in addition to primary care and other services]”This kind of thing is really important to the health of our community,” Esther Lucero, president and CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Commission, said in an interview this week. .”
she continued.[Federally run, Native] Boarding schools were designed to pull us away from traditional practices. This is to reinsert it into the culture of our community. ”
Located on the bottom floor of the Chief Seattle Club’s ?ál?al (pronounced all-all, meaning “home” in Lushootseed) building, this space welcomes patients with walls lined with cedar-scented and sweet grass. A series of corridors connect pharmacies, medical laboratories, patient examination rooms and spaces for telemedicine appointments, said Alesia Torres, her manager at the site.
The clinic will be run by 2 full-time providers, 2 medical assistants, and 1 nurse who can accept patients regardless of insurance status.
Lucero said it shares the building with the Chief Seattle Club, which provides meals, housing assistance, legal services, and other assistance to members of the city’s Indigenous community, giving patients access to the club’s resources.
“Today is an important day for Seattle’s urban Indians. This clinic is an example of how community cooperation can impact people’s lives.”
U.S. Senator Patti Murray, Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Deputy Mayor Greg Wong, and Auburn City Councilman Chris Stearns also spoke at the opening ceremony.
Earlier this year, Murray secured $1 million in federal funding to complete construction of Al Al Bill. She also secured $5 million in federal funding in her fiscal 2023 appropriations bill, which she plans to pass this year, to support the ongoing work of the Seattle Indian Health Commission.
The Seattle Indian Health Board, whose main clinic is in the Chinatown International District, launched a new intensive outpatient program in January for people facing drug use and other behavioral health problems. The board plans to expand these services to a new Pioneer Square location and a Lake City location in September.
Clinic leaders and elected officials cheered as Lucero, Belgarde, Juárez and Murray cut a large red ribbon in front of the clinic’s entrance on Thursday. Lucero said this is just the beginning of what he hopes will become a trend for this clinic model.
“We wanted to be a model for other communities of color that don’t seem to compete with each other,” Lucero said.