■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
The Indian Health Service (IHS), in consultation with the 104 federally-recognized tribes of California, has announced the grand opening of the Desert Sage Youth Wellness Center in Hemet. The new Youth Regional Treatment Center (YRTC) will provide culturally appropriate substance use disorder services to American Indian and Alaska Native youths ages 12-17.
“Today, IHS is pleased to announce the first of two youth regional treatment centers that will serve American Indian and Alaska Native youth in California,” said IHS Acting Director, Rear Adm. Chris Buchanan, REHS, MPH. “Desert Sage demonstrates our commitment to our American Indian and Alaska Native youth and families by offering culturally-centered, evidence-based, individualized behavioral health services.”
The center, at 39990 Faure Rd. in Hemet, expects to treat approximately 100 tribal youths annually and is the first federally-owned and operated health care facility in California to serve American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to a news release. Currently, most of California’s Native American youth who receive residential chemical dependency treatment are sent out-of-state to non-IHS or non-tribal facilities that do not always meet the unique cultural needs of Native American youths.
A second facility is in the works in Davis, California, and its estimated completion date is early 2019.
“The new YRTCs in California are an important step to helping thousands of Native American youth in California who need residential care,” said IHS California Area Director Beverly Miller.
The centers will provide comprehensive and holistic care, including: mental health assessments, health care services, and individualized treatment plans; structured chemical dependency programs; individual, group, and family therapy; academic education; vocational and life-skills training; and activities to meet the spiritual and cultural needs of Native American youth.
The Hemet center includes three buildings with 32 beds and five family suites and will have 70 full-time employees. The center is certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Interior features include classrooms, computer lab, art room, a commercial kitchen, dining area, cultural space, exam rooms, employee offices, an indoor half-court gymnasium and a weight room. Exterior features include an outdoor basketball court and walking trails.
The California Area Indian Health Service provides the IHS healthcare delivery system to the State of California, the home of the largest population of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in the country.
The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives and funds 11 YRTCs across the country.