Marquette Hendrickx is the grants manager at the Benewah Medical and Wellness Center in Plummer, Idaho. A graduate of the University of Idaho with a Master’s Degree from Gonzaga University, Hendrickx is also a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. In October 2012, the Benewah Medical Center opened in a building designed by NAC Architecture of Spokane. The center is believed to be the first joint venture in the U.S. between a tribe and city municipality for the purpose of providing health care for all residents.
What makes you happy when you show up to work here?
Well, you saw the building. It’s very beautiful. But I think just knowing that we’re all here for a common purpose, and that’s to serve the community. Each of us do various jobs here. I write grants, but it’s still a big part of the whole puzzle. Just knowing that you’re a part of something bigger in the community.
We have a new grant funded through the CDC that’s a community transformation grant. So it is not just direct service, it is getting out into the community, into the schools, into workplaces helping implement employee wellness programs, looking at restaurants to help revise menus to offer healthier options.
It’s hard to get people to change their habits. Do you think your emphasis on preventive care is working?
It is getting out there more, the more people see how much it helps. In the past year, I’ve seen people take the initiative to go to the wellness center and lose 40, 50, 100 pounds. People are really taking their health seriously. The manager at the store is working with us and the community transformation grant to offer healthier choices in the store … because it’s difficult here in the rural community. A lot of people have to go to Spokane or Coeur d’Alene to do their food shopping. So having healthier options down here — fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains — where they can access them and not spend twice as much is important.
What is unique about a tribal-run health center?
A lot of providers haven’t worked in native communities. Establishing that cultural competence right away is important. It is so important to learn about the history of the tribe. As a health care provider, you need to develop trust with the native patient before they’re going to open up because of the historical trauma. Building trust is really important.