The outlook for Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. is bright for the coming year and the new Chairman of the UNHS Board of Directors is optimistic that the best days for UNHS are ahead.
Jamie Harvey has been a member of the UNHS Board of Directors since 2001, when Donna Singer, UNHS CEO at the time, invited him to be on the Board. He was working for the Utah Medicaid Program at the time. A 1991 graduate of Whitehorse High School, Jamie received an Associates Degree from the College of Eastern Utah, in Blanding, and went on to earn his Bachelors Degree in Sociology from University of Utah in 1998.
He was on his way to a Masters Degree in Public Administration in 2001, when he suffered kidney failure. He underwent dialysis for three years until his sister generously agreed to donate one her kidneys to Jamie and he had a kidney transplant in 2004. In 2008 Jamie went to work for the Navajo Nation as a Program Supervisor, working in Kayenta, Arizona. He still holds that job in Kayenta and commutes each day, noting that he enjoys the trip between his home in Blanding to Kayenta as long as the sun is out, and it's warm enough to ride his motorcycle. He travels what he calls the 'scenic route' through Monument Valley (home of his Paternal Clan).
Last November the UNHS Board of Directors elected Jamie to the Chairman position, succeeding Robert Whitehorse, who has been the Chairman the past two years. In looking back over the past fifteen years, during his time on the Board, Jamie said one of the highlights was in June, 2002, when UNHS received it's PL 638 contract. This gave UNHS the ability to negotiate its own contracts for healthcare and control its own destiny and its own funding. He calls that a 'turning point' for UNHS.
Another highlight was seeing the creation of Blue Mountain Hospital, in Blanding, and seeing it become a reality. He said he was amazed to realize the potential such a facility would bring to this area. He said he remembers first meeting with a pair consultants, regarding the hospital, and then watching as the process progressed to what is today. The result was a thriving, successful hospital, providing more quality healthcare, closer to the people of San Juan County, working hand in hand with UNHS.
"Blue Mountain Hospital and UNHS continue to work together to achieve a common goal," Harvey said. "UNHS has two seats on the BMH Board and we continue to have a positive relationship."
As 2016 continues, Jamie said the construction of two new buildings, in Montezuma Creek and Blanding, will be significant for UNHS. He said both buildings will be medically proficient with modern technology and décor that reflects the culture of the local people, especially in Montezuma Creek. He said the UNHS Board continues to encourage community input and discussion about the new buildings. According to Jamie, they are the people's facilities and they need to be warm and inviting for those who come to receive healthcare there.
He also hopes the Board members will be more involved in their respective communities, with the goal of focusing on ways to encourage school aged children (elementary to high school) to become more interested in education. He said he's seen an increased emphasis by many young people, since UNHS began operation, to receive higher education in the medical field. Whether it be nursing, lab tech, radiology, physicians assistants, doctors, dentists, accountants, administrators, etc. the work force at UNHS has been strongly enhanced by local residents who have educated themselves to work there. This can be found at all UNHS Community Health Centers in Blanding, Montezuma Creek, Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain.
"The focus of the Board now is to find ways to encourage kids to take education seriously and raise the next level of local leadership and providers so they come from the community," he said. "We also want to make it easier to get local patient feedback and be more engaged in soliciting input from the community."