Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe set to open nursing home

Shown is the future patio for residents of Oglala Lakota Nursing Home, slated to open in March 2016. Photo courtesy Ron Ross, President of NAHM

Oglala nursing home nears completion
First residents will be admitted in March
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Managing Editor

WHITECLAY –– The Oglala Sioux Lakota Nursing Home being built just south of Whiteclay, Neb., is near completion. This will be the first senior healthcare facility owned and chartered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe since the Cohen Home in Pine Ridge Village.

After nearly nine years of planning and development, Lakota elders and families will have a nursing home on their tribal lands, making visiting and monitoring the care of loved ones much easier and financially feasible.

After the Cohen Home fell on hard times the care of tribal senior citizens has been placed in the hands of border town facilities located in Martin, Rapid City or Hot Springs and surrounding areas. These institutions have often times been scrutinized for their care of tribal members and can be difficult to travel to, due to expenses.

Native Sun News interviewed Ron Ross, President of Native American Health Management (NAHM) and Vice-President, Terry St. Cyr who have been actively involved in the development of the nursing home near Whiteclay since 2007.

According to NAHM’s website, “Native American Health Management was founded to help set up and manage Native American nursing homes and to also provide consulting assistance to Native American tribes. Our team has extensive knowledge in effectively managing and maintaining these facilities to help the communities prosper.”

“For many years, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has been trying to build a tribally-owned nursing home,” Ross told NSN.

One of the challenges, since starting the project in 2007, has been changing administrations in tribal politics which have slowed the process, according to Ross. But the pair never gave up.

NAHM has been working closely with a board separate from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council or other tribal agencies. The board is made up of Oglala Sioux Tribal members who have been spearheading the nursing home project.

Kathy Janis is the Chair of this three-member Oglala Sioux Lakota Nursing Home Board, which

includes Leonard Little Finger and Duane Brewer. Mario Gonzalez is the tribal attorney.

The Oglala Sioux Lakota Nursing Home will have 60 beds available for residents in its 51,000 square feet space available and have state-of-the-art accommodations which include a theatre, physical therapy center, and shared-rooms situated in a way that will give seniors more privacy.

Lakota families who practice traditional ceremonial prayer systems will have a place to hold ceremonies for elders and family members in times of need. The first residents of this $16.5 million facility will be admitted beginning in March of 2016. There will be a hiring drive soon to fill the nearly 100 positions available at the nursing home, including healthcare staff, administration positions, maintenance and security.

“There will not be a shortage of applicants,” said Ross, referring to constant graduating students in the local nursing programs such as Sinte Gleska University and Oglala Lakota College.

According to Ross, other tribes have already expressed an interest to come inspect the nursing home. “Once it’s up and running, this will be used as a training facility for nurses and tribes around the country to come learn,” Ross said.

Native American Health Management has already started plans to develop and build nursing homes on several other tribal lands in the area, including on the Winnebago and Rocky Boy reservations.

The Oglala Sioux Lakota Nursing Home is possible through a $13.5 million loan from the Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota. The Oglala Sioux Tribe has put up the rest of the money needed for completion of the building. The Mdewakanton of Shakopee have been a great source of funds loaned and given in grants to the Tribe.

The federal government will help to repay the loan through the Medicaid program. On March 23, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), making it the cornerstone legal authority for the provision of health care for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. This was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

IHCIA 2010 differs from the original version of this Act passed by Congress in 1976 in many ways. The improvements include authorization for hospice, assisted living, long-term, and home and community-based care; extends the ability to recover costs from third parties to tribally operated facilities; updates current law regarding collection of reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid; and allows tribes to purchase health benefits coverage for IHS beneficiaries.

The Nursing Home Start-Up program of Native American Health Management is available for consultation and inquiries. For more information, please visit or call 402-464-0054. Their office is located at 1919 S. 40th Street, Suite 206, Lincoln, NE 68506.

(Contact Native Sun News Managing Editor Richie Richards at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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