Rural Community Health Clinics: Providing Medical Services to Everyone

Sutton community members enjoy the annual Holiday Family Gathering hosted by C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Clinic.

Sutton is a small community nestled along the picturesque Glenn Highway, where beautiful mountains and hills surround the community of about 1,500 people. The C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Clinic opened its doors in the winter of 2015 and is a collaborative working association between Chickaloon Village Traditional Council and Southcentral Foundation. The clinic provides medical services to both Alaska Native and non-Native people and supports Veterans Affairs medical services.

The service area of the clinic stretches far along the Glenn Highway and serves about 2,000 people from the communities of Sutton, Chickaloon, and Glacier View. Residents of these communities have only one local option for health care and often drive for hours to Wasilla or Anchorage for services. The Life House Community Health Clinic is a beautiful space with several exam and talking rooms, a room for minor procedures, radiology, dietician services, and telepharmacy. The facility also houses a wellness center with an exercise area, locker rooms with showers and a sauna, and space for health education classes.

Cary Fremin, manager of Life House, has been working diligently to educate residents of the clinic’s service area about what is available locally. Community engagement has been a primary focus of Fremin’s, which includes hosting community health events at Life House that are free and open to everyone. She has also been proactive in other community health events, like the Sutton Safety Fair which took place at the Sutton Community Library this summer. Fremin believes community health events are a great opportunity to talk with individuals about prevalent health issues and to share the variety of services Life House has to offer.

Life House hosts several community events each year that are often focused on health awareness issues like colon cancer, heart disease, and breast cancer. This year they also organized a back-to-school clinic encouraging parents to bring their children in for annual check ups and immunizations. Their fall and winter events included a health and Halloween event and a free Holiday Family Gathering that were fun for the whole family.

Although C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Clinic has been open for a few years, there are still many misconceptions about who can receive services. Life House is a community health center which provides services to the entire community on a sliding fee scale. There are several community health centers across Southcentral Alaska that are run in partnership by Southcentral Foundation and the local Tribal councils that serve the entire community.

For more information about receiving services at C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Clinic or to learn more about upcoming health events, please call (907) 631-7665 or visit lifehouseclinic.com.

by Krystin Bogan