IHS Opens New Optometry Clinic in Albuquerque

June 6, 2017, by CDR John E. Rael, Chief Executive Officer, Albuquerque Indian Health Center, via email from Britt Ehrhardt, MHS; Deputy Director, Public Affairs Staff, Indian Health Service Headquarters

Read CDR John Rael’s IHS article

CDR John E. Rael, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and United States Navy, leads the staff at the historic Indian health center in Albuquerque. A member of the Isleta Pueblo, he holds undergraduate degrees from Campbell University and an MBA from New Mexico State University. (Photo courtesy of Indian Health Service; Albuquerque Indian Health Center)

CDR John E. Rael. (Photo courtesy of Indian Health Service; Albuquerque Indian Health Center)

COB Editor’s Note: John Rael (COB MBA alumnus) is an American Indian veteran now leading health care change in his community.

CDR John E. Rael, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and United States Navy, leads the staff at the historic Indian health center in Albuquerque. A member of the Isleta Pueblo, he holds undergraduate degrees from Campbell University and an MBA from New Mexico State University.


I am so pleased to share with you that on Thursday, May 18, Albuquerque Indian Health Center inaugurated a new optometry clinic. The optometry clinic checks vision, diagnoses eye diseases, and dispenses glasses. We welcomed staff and family to a small opening ceremony to celebrate this important moment for patients. A traditional opening prayer was given by Joe Lucero, Director of Albuquerque Area Office of Information Technology and member of Isleta Pueblo. I gave opening remarks and then there were additional comments and thanks by CAPT Kerry Hile, Chief of Optometry for Albuquerque Indian Health Center. Special recognition was also given to Sandra Bitsie, Project Officer, and GrandCor Construction.

Dennis Yazza sets up the eyeglasses gallery in the new building on moving day. (Photo courtesy of Indian Health Service, Albuquerque Indian Health Center)

Dennis Yazza sets up the eyeglasses gallery in the new building on moving day. (Photo courtesy of Indian Health Service, Albuquerque Indian Health Center)

The new clinic is in a wonderful modular building, which sits near Lomas Boulevard NE, and houses the optometry clinic on the health center grounds.

The building holds a waiting room and check-in space, 6 exam rooms, an eyeglasses gallery, patient restrooms, and a state of the art audiology booth. The adobe-type exterior of the building has a stucco finish to blend with the historic buildings elsewhere on our campus. Our staff is so excited about providing excellent patient care in such a spacious and accommodating environment.

The previous optometry clinic was located inside the hospital in a space the team had outgrown. They saw more patients and had more staff than could comfortably fit.

That space will be converted to additional exam rooms for specialty care services. The Albuquerque Indian Health Center is one of the oldest buildings in the Indian health system, with parts of the building dating to 1936.

We respect and preserve this historic heritage while also ensuring that our facilities support modern, high-tech health care.


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