Hospital Fuses Navajo Tradition, Modern Medicine

August 17, 2008

Author: Josh Biggs

Source: USA Today

When a Navajo woman delivers a baby at Banner Page Hospital in northern Arizona, she invites her entire family — often more than 10 people — into the birthing room. She may give birth squatting, as is custom among Native Americans. A medicine man will offer ancient prayers and herbs for the mother to ease childbirth. After the baby is delivered, nurses will save the placenta so the family can take it home and bury it in a sacred place.

In this desert town flanked by canyons and Lake Powell, traditional Navajo healing is merging with modern medicine. The hospital's Native American Cultural Committee, formed in 2002, is working toward an inclusive medical community by tackling the cultural sensitivities of the Navajo people, many of whom are wary of modern medicine.