New leader of Indian Health Service promises fixes in Great Plains

A view of the Winnebago Hospital on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska. Image from Google Maps

The new leader of the Indian Health Service met with tribes in the troubled Great Plains Area this week.

According to news reports, acting director Mary Smith promised to direct a $2 million Congressional appropriation to the three worst-performing facilities in the region -- the Winnebago Service Unit in Nebraska, along with the Rosebud Service Unit and Pine Ridge Service Unit in South Dakota. The Winnebago hospital already lost certification from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service and the other two are being threatened.

"We are committed to fixing these issues not simply in the short-term but so that the changes are sustainable over time," Smith told tribal leaders in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the Associated Press reported. "I am committed, along with the rest of the team, to creating a culture of quality, accountability and leadership. You have my assurance that is far from business as usual at IHS."

Smith spent Tuesday and Wednesday hearing complaints from tribal leaders and tribal members from the entire area. She's in Nebraska on Thursday to visit the Winnebago facility and to meet with leaders of the Winnebago Tribe.

Smith is a member of the Cherokee Nation who joined the IHS last fall. She was named acting director of the agency on March 1.

Get the Story:
In tense meeting, tribal leaders, IHS head talk solutions (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/7)
Medicaid expansion work continues as clock winds down (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/7)
Federal official pledges improved care at tribal hospitals (AP 4/5)
Indian Health Service chief to meet with tribal leaders (AP 4/5)
Ahead of meeting with IHS head, tribal leaders air grievances (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/4)

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Report:
In Critical Condition: The urgent need to reform the Indian Health Service’s Aberdeen Area (December 2010)

Join the Conversation
Related Stories:
New leader of Indian Health Service plans big trip to Great Plains (03/23)
House subcommittee takes testimony on Indian Country budget (03/21)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe left 'high and dry' by IHS hospital executive (03/21)
Indian Health Service extends comment period on emergency fund (03/11)
Indian Health Service aims to save certification for troubled facility (03/09)
Mary Smith: Bringing more accountability to Indian Health Service (03/09)
New leader of Indian Health Service to testify about budget request (03/08)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold hearing on tribal budget (03/07)
IHS facility on Rosebud Sioux Reservation loses key certification (03/03)
Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Smith to helm Indian Health Service (03/01)
Editorial: Quality of Indian Health Service is a scandal in Montana (02/29)
Mike Myers: Exposing problems at the Indian Homicide Service (02/25)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe frustrated by treatment from HHS agencies (02/17)
Another IHS hospital threatened with loss of Medicare funding (02/16)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (02/11)
President Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (02/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (02/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in a state of emergency (02/10)
Tribal leaders question management changes at IHS in Great Plains (02/04)
IHS chief medical officer apologizes for comments about newborns (02/04)
Indian Health Service makes changes ahead of big SCIA hearing (2/3)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing into IHS (2/1)
Inspections of IHS facilities in Great Plains turn up big problems (1/28)
Senate committee reschedules IHS hearing and listening session (01/25)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee expands look at substandard IHS (1/22)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to look at 'substandard' care at IHS in Great Plains (01/12)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women affected by cutbacks at IHS (12/29)
Lakota Country Times: IHS restricts care at Rosebud hospital (12/24)
Nebraska tribes recognized for efforts to hold IHS accountable (09/24)
Tribes in Nebraska demand resignations of senior IHS officials (08/12)
Winnebago Tribe upset with IHS over loss of funds at hospital (8/6)
Winnebago Tribe looking to address deficiencies at IHS hospital (08/05)
Winnebago Tribe hopes to prevent Medicare cutoff at hospital (5/28)