Dena'ina Wellness Center

Shaylon Cochran/KDLL


The Kenaitze tribe announced plans for a multi-million dollar expansion of its facilities in Kenai Thursday.



  As more widely-accessible health care continues to slowly advance in America, changes to Indian Health Services or IHS, have come from Obamacare as well.

Through the Tribally-Sponsored Health Insurance program, qualified beneficiaries and their family members can receive coverage at no cost. 

In this conversation with KDLL’s Jay Barrett, Joanne Sheppard of the Dena’ina Wellness Center explains how the T-SHIP, as it’s called, differs from traditional coverage.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

In a small room of a little building on the Kenaitze Indian Tribe campus in Old Town Kenai, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams heard a big message — comprehensive, integrated care is the way to treat those trapped in the opioid epidemic.

Dr. Adams was touring Alaska this week with a particular focus on learning how the opioid epidemic is affecting the state. He visited Kenai on Thursday specifically to tour the tribe’s Dena’ina Wellness Center and Henu’ Community Wellness Court.

“It would be incredibly presumptuous and, in my opinion, incredibly wrong of me to think that we can sit in Washington, D.C. and figure out what folks need in any part of the United States, and especially out in Alaska,” Adams said. “So it’s important to get out and find out what’s working well and what’s not working. And I’ve heard from many folks that the Wellness Center is an example of how to provide many services in an integrated way to individuals, and that’s why we came here.”