Growing the Future of Indigenous Health Care Professionals

Scottsdale Recovery Center teamed up with Indian Health Services and Indigenous Pride Heath Worker program to bridge the disparity in the delivery of service by qualified health care professionals.

The objective: to provide a platform to acquire an established skill set in conjunction with cultural competence to young indigenous community members who are in pursuit of occupational opportunities in the health care industry.

Lisa Lomavaya, Public Affairs Specialist for IHS Hopi Health Care Center says, “IPHW is an intense jam-packed work/learn program that is catered to local Hopi and Tewa youth who are interested in pursuing an education and career in the health care field.” Lisa went on to say, “We acknowledge the need for health care professionals in the areas of behavioral health and substance abuse recovery to remain proactive in protecting our families, communities and our culture from the negative impacts of addiction.”

Lisa Lomavaya, and Lee Yaiva, CEO for Scottsdale Recovery Center joined forces to provide an opportunity to one of the programs participants. Nahnitiyah “Nahni” Poleviyaoma was the first to take advantage of the opportunity extended to engage in SRC’s occupational exploration program.

This opportunity allowed her accessibility to many levels of care offered by SRC including Detox, Residential, Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient and Sober Living environments, each of which has medical components that align with her aspirations to become a nurse.

“At first, I was scared to take the opportunity, but I decided to take it because the experience could help me in the future. As far as my future in nursing, I always wanted to have a career that would help my people.” 

Nahnitayah spent a portion of the day with medical professionals, learning the terminology, policy and procedure that support process implementation and medical compliance. She spent time with the CEO in a business development and strategic planning meeting. Nahni also spent some time with Executive and Clinical Leadership throughout the day. When asked about her experience, Nahnitayah said “Everyone was really nice and kind, it felt like family here. I really liked the vibe and that you are helping people.”


“It is critical that we assume the responsibility to “grow our own” by providing our youth the opportunity to gain value experience by utilizing collaborative efforts to bridge the gap to achieve occupational wellness and success.” Said Lee Yaiva.

This was also one of the ways that Scottsdale Recovery Center chose to remain proactive in mitigating the potential exploitation of indigenous community members, not just today, but for the future.

Through the efforts of Lisa Lomavaya, Indigenous Pride Heath Worker Program, IHS and the Hopi Health Care  Center in collaboration with Scottsdale Recovery, Nahni started her first class in pursuit of her Bachelor of Science in Nursing on January 16. We will follow her progress.


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