Gila River Health Care History

The Gila River Indian Community assumed management of Hu Hu Kam Memorial Hospital and the Gila Crossing Health Center from the federal I.H.S. program under Gila River Health Care (GRHC) corporation in 1995.  Hu Hu Kam Memorial, a 15-bed hospital, is located in Sacaton, Arizona, which is thirty five miles south of Phoenix, Arizona.  It provides a wide range of primary health care and specialty services to the Native American populations it serves. Komatke Health Center, a freestanding ambulatory clinic, is located in the Village of Komatke in District 6 of the Gila River Indian Community.  It provides a number of comprehensive health services.  In addition, Gila River Health Care manages the Ak-Chin Clinic for members of the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

Through growth and change, Gila River Health Care (GRHC) remains committed to improving the health of American Indian people. The mission is to provide high quality health care to the American Indian community. This is delivered through the integral components of uniquely focused preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic health services.  

Utilizing the Patient Family Centered Care model of health care delivery, GRHC promotes a healing environment that fosters the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness of our patients and families, effectively creating a patient-friendly atmosphere. 


Timeline of Milestones in GRHC History:

  • 1968: Gila River Tribal Leaders began planning and lobbying for a new hospital.
  • 1975: The Indian Self-Determination Act, P.L. 93-638, was passed by the government of the United States. 
  • 1988: In February, Hu Hu Kam Memorial Hospital opened. The name “Hu Hu Kam”, an O’odham phrase was chosen to commemorate “those who are gone.” The hospital was funded at 65% of staffing and equipment needs by Indian Health Service (IHS). 
  • 1992: President Clinton balanced budget initiative reducing administrative costs and in effect reduced federal employees to Indian Health Service (IHS). 
  • 1993: Tribal leaders successfully lobbied for additional funds. 76% of staffing and equipment needs were funded.
  • 1994: The Tribal Council approved an application for an Il-IS tribal management grant to conduct a feasibility study. Among the objectives of the study were to determine if it is possible to serve the entire Gila River Indian Community from the hospital, to determine if it is a financially responsible decision for the community to undertake the operation of the hospital, and to determine if the community has adequate management capabilities and systems to allow it to assume operation of the hospital. Results of the feasibility study recommended that the community assume responsibility from lHS for the operation and management of both Hu Hu Kam Memorial Hospital and Gila Crossing Clinic. The goal was simple: to protect what was currently in place and avoid further reductions. The Executive Committee of the hospital began to establish its own administrative systems, namely finance, personnel, procurement, contract health, and billing.
  • 1995: On October 1, the 638 contract was awarded and Gila River Health Care Corporation was established as a non-profit entity chartered under the auspices of the Gila River Indian Community tribal government.  With no shares or start up dollars available, Systems Task Force Committees were established to develop and implement Finance, Personnel, Procurement, Property, Managed Care, and Patient Business. The goal was to become independent of the federal bureaucracy. 
  • 1997: GRHCC opened a clinic in the Ak-Chin Indian Community.  A Dental Aide program was implemented.
  • 1998: Orthodontics program was implemented and funded by Tobacco Tax. Expanded the eyeglass program with Tobacco Tax funding. Behavioral Health Clinic became a GRHCC department.
  • 1999: NIH Data Coordinating Center transferred to GRHCC.  The beginning of the School Nursing Program.
  • 2001: Expansion and renovation of the Dental Department with Tobacco Tax funding from Gila River Indian Community. Opened a state of the art center for physical therapy and exercise. The building was named the Su Pu Kum Ke. Expanded the Gila Crossing Clinic into a new modular building that was funded by the Tobacco Tax program. 
  • 2002: Received Critical Access designation on November 21st for Hu Hu Kam Hospital. 
  • 2003: Ak-Chin clinic moved to a new larger 7,000 sq. ft. modular building. 
  • 2004: 18,500 sq. ft. Behavioral Health Services Building constructed for BHC, RBHC, School Nursing and Information Systems training. 
  • 2009: In January, Gila Crossing Clinic moved to the spacious, 75,000 sq. ft. Komatke Health Center 
  • 2010: In December, the Residential Treatment Center, “Thwajik Ke’” – “Care House” – transitioned under Gila River Health Care Behavioral Health Services to provide substance abuse residential treatments services.
  • 2011: In July, the GRIC/DHS Behavioral Health Outpatient Services transitioned under the GRHC Behavioral Health Services umbrella as well.