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Inspections of IHS facilities in Great Plains turn up big problems

The Pine Ridge Hospital on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo from Dean Kurtz Construction

The Associated Press obtained inspection reports of Indian Health Service facilities in South Dakota and the results aren't pretty.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare visited two facilities that serve the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Inspectors found serious problems with medical equipment, patient care and record keeping that, in some cases, put people's lives at risk, the AP reported.

"The whole system, their ineptness, their wastefulness boils down to that individual person on Pine Ridge having to suffer," Oglala Sioux President John Yellowbird Steele told the AP. "Someone has to care. Somebody has to make them care about that individual patient."

The IHS has vowed to correct the deficiencies in order to prevent the loss of CMS funding. But the agency doesn't have a great track record in that respect -- the hospital that serves the Omaha Tribe and the Winnebago Tribe lost CMS certification last summer even though officials knew of the problems more than a year prior.

South Dakota and Nebraska are in the Great Plains Area of the IHS. Problems in the region will be the subject of a hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee next Wednesday.

The committee is also holding a listening session after the hearing to hear from other parts of Indian Country. Written statements can be emailed to or via mail at:
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Attn: Amanda Kelly, Clerk
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Get the Story:
Reports detail issues at reservation hospitals (AP 1/28)

Committee Notices:
Reexamining the Substandard Quality of Indian Health Care in the Great Plains (January 27, 2016)
A Listening Session on Putting Patients First: Addressing Indian Country’s Critical Concerns Regarding IHS (January 27, 2016)

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