Mary Smith: Bringing more accountability to Indian Health Service

Mary Smith, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is the new principal deputy director at the Indian Health Service. She's also serving as the acting director. Photo from IHS

Mary Smith, the new leader of the Indian Health Service, vows to improve quality of care, strengthen leadership and bring more accountability to an agency that has repeatedly faced criticism:
I have only been in my job as Principal Deputy Director for a little over a week. Although I have been at the agency for a short time - I served for approximately five months in the role of Deputy Director - it has become quite clear to me that, while the IHS is firmly committed to the mission of providing quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives, we face steep operational and quality of care challenges.

This is unacceptable.

I want to underscore my commitment to fixing these challenges, including those in the Great Plains and the more systemic issues that we face as an agency such as staffing and housing. We are committed to fixing these issues not simply in the short-term but so that the changes are sustainable over time. I and the rest of the team at IHS am committed to creating a culture of quality, leadership, and accountability.

It is far from "business as usual" at IHS.

The annual budget request of the Indian Health Service is the result of a budget formulation and consultation process that involves IHS and Tribal Indian health program representatives and providers from the local to the national level. This year, as in previous years, quality health care, behavioral health and contract support costs have been prominent on the agenda and in the final budget request.

Get the Story:
Mary Smith: Proposed budget for 2017 for Indian Health Service expands quality care, behavioral health (IHS Blog 3/9)

Committee Notice:
Hearing to Review the FY17 Indian Health Service Budget Request (March 9, 2016)

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