Dr. Sylvestor A. Moses joins San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation

Contributed Photo: The San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation welcomes the addition of Dr. Sylvestor A. Moses to its medical staff.

Contributed Article/Courtesy San Carlos Apache Reservation

SAN CARLOS APACHE RESERVATION – In another major advance in the rapid expansion of high-quality health care on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, the Tribe is honored to announce that tribal member Dr. Sylvestor A. Moses, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the medical staff at its inpatient hospital in Peridot. 

“I’m excited to return to my tribal community to heal and serve my people,” Dr. Moses said. “This was my main drive in going to medical school; it has never wavered and today I get to live out this dream.” 

The addition of Dr. Moses to the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation (SCAHC) comes at a time when less than .4% of the medical providers in the United States are American Indians or Alaska Natives. Dr. Moses joins a team of 150 doctors and 90 nurses as the only American Indian doctor on the Tribe’s healthcare corporation’s staff. 

“This is truly a celebratory moment to welcome one of our own tribal members to heal, serve and empower our Apache people,” said Steve Titla, president of the SCAHC board of directors. 

The healthcare corporation has adopted the Apache practice of Gozhǫǫ, which embraces the principles of goodness, balance, harmony, and beauty. As part of this practice, SCAHC is striving to create a healthcare setting dedicated to “Apaches healing Apaches.” 

“To see the fruition of our goal of having Apaches healing Apaches through the addition of Dr. Moses is a beautiful reminder that this is only the beginning,” said SCAHC CEO Victoria Began.  

A major step towards achieving Gozhǫǫ in healthcare occurred in 2017 when the Tribe created the healthcare corporation and assumed administration of the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) new hospital and a clinic. At the time, the IHS had one doctor, about 30 nurses, and 300 total employees. 

Contributed Photo: Dr. Sylvestor A. Moses, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the medical staff at its inpatient hospital in Peridot. 

Under the Tribe’s direction, the SCHAC has rapidly expanded to 800 employees with a $132 million budget and increased inpatient beds from eight to 16. It now serves an average of 827 patients a day at the main hospital in Peridot and a satellite clinic in Bylas. The healthcare corporation also operates a Level IV trauma center. 

“Where patients used to travel to Phoenix and Tucson to see specialists, the healthcare corporation now has its own specialists, and even does some surgeries,” said San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler. 

Dr. Moses grew up in Morenci in southeast Arizona and remembers making regular trips to Bylas, where his father had many family members living on the Reservation. The family later moved to Tucson where Dr. Moses attended University High School. During the summer after his junior year, Dr. Moses attended the Medical Student Research Program offered by the University of Arizona. 

“This program inspired me to pursue a career in science and research,” Dr. Moses said. 

He attended the University of Arizona and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. He pursued his graduate studies at the U of A earning a master’s degree and a joint Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular/Cellular Biology. Dr. Moses then worked on the Reservation in the Education Department with the goal of inspiring young Apaches to pursue higher education, particularly in the STEM and medical fields. 

“While working on the reservation, it was clear that we needed more San Carlos Apache members in healthcare fields,” Dr. Moses said. “Also at that time, our new hospital was in the process of being built. A new philosophy was being born at that time which I distinctly remember; ‘Apaches healing Apaches.’  I figured that the best way to inspire our people is to lead by example.” 

Dr. Moses was accepted into the U of A’s College of Medicine and graduated in 2019. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the U of A’s Banner University Medical Center in Tucson earlier this year. 

Dr. Moses is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and hunting. He also plays racquetball at least four times weekly. Dr. Moses plays five instruments; clarinet, guitar, bass guitar, and saxophone and is trained in classical piano and has been playing for over 35 years. 

Dr. Moses credits his mother and father as his most notable mentors along with Dr. Marlys Witte, who was the head of the Medical Student Research Program that he attended as a high school student. Dr. Moses has no plans to leave the Reservation. 

“My overall goal is to be here for a very long time; inspiring and ushering in the next generation of Apache healthcare professionals,” he said.