N.D. Sen. Conrad puts director of Indian Health Service 'on notice' during meetingSen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., met Tuesday with the director of the Indian Health Service and “put her on notice” that the 34,000 American Indians who rely on IHS services in North Dakota “deserve better” than the care they’re receiving.
By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., met Tuesday with the director of the Indian Health Service and “put her on notice” that the 34,000 American Indians who rely on IHS services in North Dakota “deserve better” than the care they’re receiving.
In a statement released by his Washington, D.C. office, Conrad said he pressed Dr. Yvette Roubideaux on how the agency is responding to “serious problems facing North Dakota’s tribal health facilities.”
In a report published Sunday in the Herald, the chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians was sharply critical of the health service, whose Aberdeen Area covers more than 122,000 American Indians in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.
“I have met with Dr. Roubideaux three times, and all I’ve gotten from her is a lot of verbal double-talk,” Chairman Merle St. Claire said on Friday. “The actual people who are affected, the tribal members who are affected, should have a venue to voice their concern.”
St. Claire, who said he asked Conrad to meet with Roubideaux, said he was frustrated by what he considered inadequate responses from her during her meeting with representatives of 18 tribes last week in Rapid City, S.D.
Conrad, a senior member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, noted in his statement Tuesday that an investigation by the committee last year revealed serious troubles within the IHS’s Aberdeen region.
“The findings in the report … were shocking and unacceptable,” Conrad said.
According to the Senate report, several Indian Health Service facilities could lose their federal accreditation, which would mean they could not bill Medicaid or Medicare, aggravating already serious funding problems.
The investigation revealed high management turnover and other problems at the Quentin Burdick Hospital in Belcourt, N.D., which serves the Turtle Mountain Band. The facility also was damaged during a February flood, which has forced dialysis patients to seek treatment in Minot, N.D.
Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail to email@example.com.