Supporting Culturally-Sensitive Care at Denver Indian Health and Family Services


Denver Indian Health and Family Services, Inc. (DIHFS), a Direct Relief health center partner located in downtown Denver, takes pride in their community and goes to great lengths to make sure their patients feel comfortable.

“Native Americans like to come to a place with other Native Americans and native communities,” said Chief Operating Officer, Adrianne Maddux, adding that it’s helpful for their patients to be in a place that is familiar, accessible, and employs staff that understand the challenges facing their community.

Maddux, who has been a part of the organization for the last 45 years, said the clinic focuses on hiring professionals that have an understanding and respect for the disparities and cultural impact the patients have been through. They regularly host conferences for the clinic staff to delve deeper into the understanding of the cultural context so they can better serve their patients.

One of the topics regularly highlighted is that of new patients coming from the reservations. Native Americans living on the reservations receive federal funding and free medical care. But when they leave, safety-net organizations like DIHFS fill the gaps by providing a new medical home for those who are suddenly not covered.

Along with its medical clinic – which helps infants, children, and adults – Denver Indian Health and Family Services also has a Dental Program, Diabetes Treatment and Education Program and a Behavioral Health Department. In total, DIHFS services more than 1,600 people every year, with over 7,000 visits and welcomes both Native and non-Native patients.

The Diabetes Program primarily services people with Type II diabetes by offering a 12-week class held 4-6 times per year, as well as an educational program that works with the patient and families for preventative and treatment options.

DIHFS partners with local hospitals such as St. Joseph for specific treatments such as obstetric care; however, the patients return to DIHFS for follow-up.

Maddux said the organization is delighted to offer Dental and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) programs. CHIPRA is policy that provides funding to identify, enroll, and retain health coverage for uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but are not enrolled.

“It’s pretty common to walk in without Medicaid and leave with it,” Maddux said.

To continue providing quality, affordable care, DIHFS is improving their clinic with more technology, better services, and a lower wait time. They will soon have health navigators working with the patients to lessen confusion about becoming eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Direct Relief has partnered with DIHFS for more than a year, sending needed medications and supplies to help DIHFS care for people in need. Maddux said the shipments made a “big impact when DIHFS couldn’t pay for medicines. “We are just very thankful for [Direct Relief].”


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