Health & Education

Tal Moore takes helm at Health & Wellness Center

07.14.2015 Brent Merrill Health & Wellness, Tribal Employees

After spending the last five years working for the Navajo Nation, new interim Health Services Executive Director Tal Moore will transition from his role as a consultant to actual leadership of the Grand Ronde Health & Wellness Center.


“Tal brings with him several years of experience in providing high quality patient service,” said Tribal General Manager Dawn Doar. “He is instrumental in assessing our Health & Wellness Center while providing leadership as the interim director.”

Moore, who has 25 years of experience in Tribal government and health care, was the chief administrative officer at the Navajo’s Fort Defiance Indian Hospital before being recruited to come to Grand Ronde. He was responsible for overseeing the Tsehootsooi Medical Center and the NahataDzill Health Clinic at Fort Defiance.

Moore, who is a descendant of the Sandia Pueblo, is the president of ElmHawk Consulting based in Palm Springs, Calif.

“I was asked to assist leadership in conducting a comprehensive organizational assessment and that changed to assisting with the daily operations,” said Moore, who was introduced to Tribal Council on July 2 during Doar’s update.

“One of the things we are looking at right away is the access to health care, access with Tribal membership in mind,” said Moore. “Elders being the key in that focus.”

Moore, who attended Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., said he will concentrate on filling current vacancies at the Health & Wellness Center. He said he wants to add value to each patient visit and that patients should not have to wait months for an appointment to see a doctor.

Currently, Moore and his staff are recruiting for a caregiver, a pharmacy director, a dentist, an optometrist and a physician and/or a nurse practitioner.

“This is a beautiful place to work and this Tribe doesn’t hold back as far as giving the providers the right resources,” said Moore. “The assessment is really focused right now on staffing levels. We have some vacancies that we have to prioritize to recruit and retain. We need to open up access. We’re looking at patient flow. We are working on consistency. We’re looking at the patient with a continuum of care and we can do that.”

 Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno said he wants the Tribe’s Health & Wellness Center to be as consistent as possible now and in the future.

“It (the clinic) needs to meet the level of everything else Grand Ronde has done,” said Leno. “A Tribal member needs to be able to say, ‘I’m proud of the health clinic’ and I think that is something that Tal understands. I think he clearly identifies with the family mentality. He is a Native American. So, I think he understands that you have to hold together as a family and that there will be difficult decisions that have to be made at times for the betterment of the whole Tribe.”

Tribal Council Secretary Toby McClary said he is impressed with Moore so far and that he is happy with the positive feedback he has heard.

“I’m relieved that he has experience in Indian Country, specifically with Elders,” said McClary. “It has been a struggle at times for us to find people in the medical field that understand sensitivity and that level of respect. We put our Elders on a pedestal around here as if they were royalty and I don’t think outside of Indian Country that is always the practice. It’s good to have him in there to help educate people and get them headed in the right direction.”

Leno and Moore agree that the clinic will be undergoing changes and that those changes will come in two phases.

“One is basically to get things moving in the right direction and get everybody on the same page,” said Leno. “Then we want to raise the performance level to the point where our Health & Wellness Center is talked about just like our casino is talked about and just like our Natural Resources Department is talked about. I think he clearly understands the role that he is in.”

Moore, who is the elected president of the National Native American Human Resources Association since 2008, said he is looking at a more holistic approach to medicine for the Health & Wellness Center.

“We want holistic health care. We want traditional health care,” said Moore. “We’ll do it because that’s what the community wants. I’m a firm believer that western medicine is founded on evidence, but a balance with traditional and holistic care can really help somebody in a spiritual and healthy way. It’s critical.”

Moore said he needs to find out what “traditional medicine” means in Grand Ronde. He said he learned “quickly” what traditional medicine entailed while at Fort Defiance Indian Hospital.

“We had five traditional healers on staff full-time,” said Moore. “We had 50 beds. We had an ICU unit and we had 250,000 patient visits a year. That is something we are looking at here is holistic and traditional practices.”  

Leno said he believes Moore is the right person for the interim position because he gets what it means to be Native.

“I think it is important to be able to read a patient,” said Leno. “That doctor needs to realize you are not in the outside world. You are in our world. I think our doctors here now and in the future need to understand that.”

McClary said he sees Moore as being a good influence on those around him.

“Having that leadership and background with Tal is going to be important,” said McClary. “I think he will set that example and people will just learn from his behavior.”

Doar said it is her goal for the Tribe’s Health & Wellness Center to become a model for Indian Country.

“The Health & Wellness Center has amazing employees with dedication for serving our membership and the community,” said Doar. “The combination of Tal’s experience and the level of dedication from our current staff is the catalyst needed to establish the Health & Wellness Center as the best in Indian Country.”