Urban Indian Health Center opens downtown

The brand new Urban Indian Health Center opened its doors in downtown Billings on Wednesday. 

"They haven't had a resource for a while, I would imagine some of them try to go to the reservation if they can find transportation, but a lot of them don't even have medicare or insurance," said Urban Indian Health Clinic Executive Director, Leonard Smith. 

In February, Urban Indian Health Clinic won a grant from Indian Health Services to create a new clinic for a growing urban Indian population

"It's the largest in the state you know and a lot of people coming to Billings because there's just not the jobs on reservations not the opportunity on reservations," said Smith. 

The new clinic will open on Monday and will serve over 6,000 Native Americans living in Billings. 

Many urban Indians do not have access to the care provided on the reservations. If they can find transportation, most of the funding at Indian Health Services is only for critical situations. 

"So a lot of the prevention type services are not available and that's what we really want to concentrate on is making our Native Americans healthy individuals," says Smith. 

Smith says the first phase of the project will focus on providing primary care. Next, the clinic will expand their counseling center to develop mental health and substance use programs. 

"We have to take care of ourselves to live for future generations and I'm just really happy that this facility is here," says Billings Native American, Kinsley Walks Along. 

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