Exploring Healthcare Delivery at Indian Health Service, Navajo Nation

IMG_2810Working at the Indian Health Service (IHS) in Gallup, New Mexico brought new meaning to the concept of health care delivery for Shubha Bhat, MD, a resident in Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Department of Medicine. Throughout her time with IHS, Bhat gained new insights, such as the importance and need for the integration of behavioral health within primary care, as well as how to effectively utilize Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist used to manage alcohol dependence.

A house in Navajo Nation.
A house in Navajo Nation.

Her presentations during Infectious Disease Rounds and Intensive Care Unit Rounds at the Gallup Indian Medical Center illustrated her successes, as she discussed her findings after caring for a particularly complex patient to a team of physicians and care providers. At the conclusion of her first week, she had gained a better understanding of the nuances in treating latent and active TB, and how to monitor for drug side effects.  

During her final weeks with IHS, Bhat was exposed to new and innovative models of preventive health care delivery. She interacted with various programs such as the Navajo Area IHS HIV Program (HOPE), a program that employs HIV nurse specialists to assist infectious disease physicians with HIV clinic flow and see patients independently for STD treatment, vaccinations, counseling and rapid HIV testing of partners; Navajo Community Outreach & Patient Engagement Program (COPE), which works closely with community and tribal partners to promote healthy, prosperous and empowered Native communities; and Project Extension for Community Health Outcomes, or ECHO, an organization that provides a collaborative model of medical education and care management to improve access to specialty treatment in rural and underserved areas.

Read the full first and second stories to find out why Bhat plans to return to Gallop in the future.