The Fresno American Indian Health Project is expanding its space in Fresno in an effort to help more urban American Indian tribal members. Photo by FAIHP
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
A provider of health services for Native Americans in the Valley will expand its scope of operations to include primary care with help from a recent grant.
Incorporated as a nonprofit in 2011, the Fresno American Indian Health Project (FAIHP) is an organization devoted to providing services to urban Native Americans in Fresno and other parts of the region. According Selina De La Peña, CEO of the FAIHP, this amounts to people from more than120 tribes from across the country.
“People that move away from the reservations — let’s say in New Mexico, Oklahoma — and they come to Fresno,” De La Peña said. “So they live here, but their original roots are from somewhere else.”
The services provided include therapy (they have three on-site therapists), suicide prevention, diabetes and nutrition education, a community garden, stress management, exercise classes, a 12-step medicine wheel, transportation and safety training. Nancy Pierce, director of health services, added that diabetes and addiction are some of the biggest concerns in the Native American community, with the opioid crisis hitting them particularly hard. To combat this, Narcan training is also offered.
Another program the project takes pride in is prenatal and parental assistance for children up to age 3. What makes it unique, Pierce said, is that members of FAIHP do in-house visits, coming to the home of the parent and child.
Health care, however, is not the only area the FAIHP involves itself in. Alongside health care, they provide an array of social services including case management and referral for housing and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
More recently, the FAIHP has attracted the attention of Kaiser Permanente, which has provided the nonprofit with a grant of more than $368,000. With it, they will now be able to provide primary care. De La Peña says this will add 3,197 square feet of space to their 1151 E. Shaw Ave. office. Pierce added that it will be a major source of relief not only for the FAIHP, but also the people they serve.
“A lot of clients, since we don’t provide medical services here, they have to go to other places, because we’d like to make sure that immunizations are up to date and they’ve had their exam this year and all those things,” Pierce said.
De La Peña and Pierce expect the primary care center to be open around January. They both added that their services are not only for Native Americans, but also for the entire community.