First analyzer arrives in the Gila River Indian Community

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


After working for some time with federal authorities, the Gila River Indian Community obtained Abbott “ID Now” Analyzers on April 13, to aid Gila River Health Care in the identification of COVID-19 in GRHC patients.

“This means we will be able to scale up our testing even further and have the results back immediately,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of GRHC’s enhanced testing capabilities.


“Our health care expended its efforts to get commercial testing available,” said Lewis, who said it will reduce the time for test results substantially. He said it is essential to have the capability to test  on reservation and get results in a timely manner as many commercial laboratories have been overwhelmed by testing of COVID-19 across the state.


“We continued our efforts and sought different commercial lab partners, who substantially reduced the time it takes to get those test results back,” said Lewis. Going a step further the Community will take possession of additional testing equipment for COVID-19, to further hasten and hopefully expand the process.


He said, “Based on our outreach and active engagement with the federal government, White House, Congress and Indian Health Service, we were given the Abbott ID Now analyzers.”


Lewis added, the analyzers are able to produce test results in less than 15 minutes, “the next step is to get enough test kits fo us to broadly expand testing. That is the key.”


Additionally, prior to receiving the Abbott ID Now analyzers, the Community placed an order for BioFire® analyzers, which can cut down the result time to 45 minutes, if the test is carried out properly.


Those are on order and it is not clear when they will arrive, but the Abbott Analyzer is already delivered and ready to begin operation.


In other COVID-19-related developments Gila River Health Care is moving forward to consolidate at GRHC campuses during the COVID-19 outbreak to best address the potential influx of COVID-19 cases.


According to a GRHC press release, beginning April 13, the Hu Hu Kam Memorial Hospital in Sacaton and Komatke Health Center in Laveen, will be reduced to essential services. The Hau’pal (Red Tail Hawk) Health Center will be converted to a field hospital for inpatient care of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.


“We are purposely structured to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony Santiago, Interim Chief Executive Officer of GRHC. Despite the recent changes, Santiago added, “We are utilizing telephonic and video platforms for routine health visits, while continuing to provide urgent visits across all of our medical and surgical departments.”


At the two campuses, where essentials services will be offered, date and times will vary and will require an appointment to receive care, unless it is urgent, a number will be provided to contact a representative. For example, the Behavioral Health Services has a crisis-line at (520) 550-6008 and the Emergency Department will be open 24/7.


Despite the allocation of services, curb-side and drive-thru pick-up for prescriptions will continue with the option of delivery to patients.