Health | National

Native Sun News: Charges, countercharges fly at Sioux San





The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.


RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA –– Allegations have swirled through the Rapid City community about the alleged removal of Sioux San CEO Fred Koebrick.

A committee comprised of concerned patrons of Sioux San unofficially claimed a triumph over what they had claimed to be flagrant disrespectful and unprofessional treatment of patients as well as employees by Koebrick.

Calls and emails to the Aberdeen Area Office of the Indian Health Service were directed to Courtney Mallen, public affairs representative. All calls and emails were met with claims that requests for information concerning this alleged removal should be submitted in writing. As of press time, those written requests were left unanswered.

Calls made to the acting Aberdeen Area director, Ron Cornelius, were also left unanswered, as well as those to Yvette Roubideaux, IHS director.

When the allegations were made concerning Koebrick’s removal, Native Sun News was made aware only of the fact that Allen Davis was Sioux San’s acting CEO by the people who answered calls to the business office at Sioux San.

As of press time, a reliable source divulged credible information that claims that Davis has been relieved of his duties as acting CEO and is expected to report back to Aberdeen immediately.

Alan Barlow, acting Aberdeen Area executive officer is set to replace Davis on March 6.

This credible source informed NSN that there have been several employees at Sioux San who have complained to the Aberdeen office about the manner in which they were being treated by Davis. Employees also criticized Davis for inviting one of the most vocal opponents of Sioux San and its leadership, Jim Shaw, to speak at a recent general staff meeting. According to the source, private citizens are not usually allowed to speak at the general staff meetings.

Shaw is a member of the Rapid City Indian Health Committee, which was established to compile and lodge complaints against the Rapid City IHS unit’s administration. However, one of the complaints most often mentioned about Shaw is that he is a convicted sex offender. This allegation has been substantiated by Native Sun News via the publicly accessible South Dakota Sex Offender Registry website at https://sor.sd.gov.

Nearly all of the allegations made concerning the lack of quality services at Sioux San have been funneled through the committee, which meets at the Woyatan Lutheran Church in North Rapid every Thursday evening at 6 p.m.

Many of the complaints have already been answered by Koebrick, as previously reported by NSN, and come at a time during which Sioux San has shown various improvements for both patients and employees.

Documented and publicly acknowledged improvements include those made to the actual physical presentation of the hospital. Grounds around Sioux San are maintained and groomed; the rock wall which runs along Canyon Lake Drive and fronts the hospital building has been cleaned up; the interior of the hospital is kept at required standards; and a variety of decorative artwork hanging on the walls.

Another improvement has been the reopening of the cafeteria for all employees, as well as the public. Pricing, quality and quantity of the offerings at Sioux San’s cafeteria has been acknowledged by the public as a welcome feature.

In addition to these improvements, new medical equipment has been brought in to replace old and outdated equipment. There are currently more doctors and nurses providing services at Sioux San than at any other time in recent history. Jobs are being advertised, and the community is welcome to apply for these positions.

Koebrick, in his time as CEO, had established a relationship with the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s health programs, such as the Community Health Representative office, Native Healing and Native Women’s Health, that operate either at or out of Sioux San Hospital. Sharon Richards of the CHR program has been quoted as saying she worked for eleven years trying to establish meetings with former Sioux San management with little success and is impressed with the monthly meetings that Koebrick set up as CEO.

“We have the smallest budget serving one of the largest Indian populations, but we’re working hard to make every one of those dollars work for the people,” Koebrick said in previous interviews with NSN’s former editor and publisher, Tim Giago.

At press time, none of the allegations against Koebrick by the Rapid City Indian Health Committee have been substantiated. Reports of Koebrick’s removal as well Davis’ removal from Sioux San have also not been substantiated.

Over the past decade, at least nine CEOs have come and gone at Sioux San.

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)