AIHSC Urban 4 in 1 Grant Abstract
AIHSC will utilize incorporation of traditional knowledge, experiences, and culture into the Urban clinical environment to detoxify the intergenerational trauma experienced by American Indian and Alaska Natives. Within the past few years, the intergenerational traumas have come to mainstream light which has increased the need for cultural awareness, acceptance and rebuilding for the AI/AN communities. Through the Boarding school era and historic relocation marches/incarcerations/hangings, the AI/AN tribes were taught/forced to not speak of their culture/identity which created a sense of loss of their persons. The European settlement of the US created a loss of culture, language, heritage, family, community, and person for AI/AN people. These losses created an imbalance of body, mind, and spirit for the AI/AN people. Recently many tribal colleges and tribes have begun to have immersion programs for their people on customs, traditions, and family values. As an Urban program, many of our Tribal members who reside in Urban areas are still at a loss of their cultural identity. With our Mental Health and ASA programs, we hope to help our community rebuild that cultural connection to help our community youth rebuild their sense of a whole Tribal person, body, mind, and spirit. Through healing, we hope to have AI/AN community members recognize the self-medication through addictions that is common among AI/AN for generations and to learn how to heal their whole being. Through gaining knowledge of their culture, we hope our youth will be able to regain greater self-esteem and confidence.
As many urban natives live in poverty, their children experience the same cycle of poverty; lower education, lower earning capacity, teen pregnancy, low-income housing, and become caught in the welfare cycle. As such, along with poverty comes the health inequity. As the only health clinic in Illinois focused on providing services to AI/AN, we need to expand our services. With so many significant comorbidities existing among AI/AN community members, we will be focusing our Health Promotion Disease prevention efforts on Diabetes Lifestyle Change including diet, exercise, and education. As we watch our patients diagnosed with diabetes continue to decline in health, we need to refocus our attention on education of diabetes and complications that come from uncontrolled diabetes.
We will also focus on prevention through our immunization program. We need to start rebuilding our infant through 18-year-old patient population and ensure that our patients in those demographics meet the norm for immunizations. We will also focus on the influenza vaccine for adults and Zoster for adults 65+. With the onset of the pandemic, many of our numbers have fallen as people do not feel comfortable coming into a clinic due to travel on public transit. We will focus on making our immunizations/vaccines more readily available through senior luncheons and public health nurse visits.
To lead to a healthier lifestyle for our community, AIHSC will work on development of a community garden so that community members can have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This will hopefully assist AI/AN patients with healthier diet and lifestyle.