FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central Valley residents have a new place to go for health care. The American Indian Health Project Health and Wellness Center in Northeast Fresno is now providing medical services for all ages. The clinic is also providing COVID-19 tests by appointment.
City leaders and members of local Native American tribes celebrated the expanded services and the new clinic with a ribbon-cutting Wednesday morning.
"This vision was long thought about for our community," said Selina De Le Pena, CEO of FAIHP. "It is such a special day for our organization, our staff and our Native community."
Native American communities face inequity in health care and die at higher rates than other Americans in many categories of preventable illness, including chronic liver disease and diabetes, according to the Indian Health Service.
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer applauded the organization and the staff for reaching and helping vulnerable populations.
"We know that you are making inroads with a population that does not feel included, heard, or seen. This is so important, now more than ever, making sure that people have reliable access to low and affordable health care," said Tyler Maxwell, a Fresno City Councilmember.
Lupe Gomez-Martinez is the family nurse practitioner at the clinic and a member of Tule River Indian Tribe of California. She acknowledges the challenges Native American face in health care and hopes her background will help address their unique needs.
"When this came up, I was so excited because I thought oh my goodness, what a nice opportunity to learn more about my native heritage and to help my brothers and sisters, my native community I mean I thought it was wonderful," said Gomez-Martinez.
Dirk Charley, the tribal leader of the Dunlap Band of Mono Indians, says transportation to health care clinics is a challenge for tribal members who live in Indian Country.
"When you can have something local, and something nearby, and available, it's a blessing," he said.
Fresno American Indian Health Project now offers medical services