Indian Health Service failing to make progress in troubled region

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

The Indian Health Service is still having trouble addressing long-standing problems in the Great Plains Area.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service plans to withdraw certification to the Pine Ridge Service Unit on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota unless an agreement can be reached to resolve numerous deficiencies. Without certification, the hospital will be unable to bill the federal government for services provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients after May 16, the Associated Press reported.

The Rosebud Service Unit on the neighboring Rosebud Sioux Reservation is facing the same deadline. The emergency room there was placed on "diversion" in December and it looks like the situation will continue for a least a couple more months, The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. A "diversion" in the term that the IHS uses a for shutdown in services.

“When you tell us that quality is your priority, it’s hard for us to believe that," Evelyn Espinoza, the health administrator for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, told Mary Smith, the acting director of the IHS, at a meeting last week, the paper reported. "How many more relatives are going to be dying because of this?"

A third facility in the Great Plains -- the Winnebago Service Unit in Nebraska -- lost CMS certification last summer. The hospital serves the Omaha Tribe and the Winnebago Tribe.

Get the Story:
2 reservation hospitals now face funding-cutoff deadline (AP 4/9)
IHS head: Rosebud ER unlikely to re-open soon (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/9)
South Dakota hospital set to lose Medicare status (Becker's Hospital Review 4/8)

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

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