Navajo cancer center will cut tribal members' travel time

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Navajo cancer center will cut tribal members' travel time
This June 2, 2019, photo shows the modular building that houses the cancer treatment center at a Tuba City, Ariz., hospital. The hospital on the Navajo Nation begins offering cancer treatment to patients who previously had to travel long distances for care. The Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp. in northeastern Arizona saw its first patient in June. The hospital says the treatment center is the first on a Native American reservation. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

TUBA CITY, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has opened a cancer treatment center on the reservation that it says will significantly cut down on travel time for patients.

The Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp. in northeastern Arizona recently welcomed its first patient. It is funding the new center with hospital profits, grants and donations.

Cancer treatment is considered specialty care under the federal Indian Health Service, which partially funds the hospital. Patients previously had to get a referral to be seen elsewhere, often an hour or more from home.

Hospital chief executive Lynette Bonar says the treatment center is the first of its kind on any Native American reservation, though some facilities offer screenings and other services.

It will serve Navajos, Hopis and San Juan Southern Paiutes in its service area.