Health | National

NCAI President: A 'terrible job' at health care for the first Americans






The Parker Indian Health Center in Parker, Arizona. Photo by Churl Han

It's no secret that the Indian Health Service is woefully inadequate, as just about any tribal citizen or tribal leader knows.

“Right now the government is doing a terrible job of providing health care for Native Americans,” National Congress of American Indians Brian Cladoosby told The Washington Post.

Victoria Kitcheyan, the treasurer for the Winnebago Tribe, is even more blunt. She said the Omaha Winnebago Hospital on her reservation is responsible for lost lives.

It's been said in my community that the Winnebago Hospital is the only place you can legally kill an Indian," Kitcheyan told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in February.

Two new investigative reports confirm Kitcheyan's and Cladoosby's concerns. Lack of staffing, improper training, vacancies in leadership and outdated facilities are causing harm to tribal citizens, according to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The IHS is taking steps to address long-standing quality of care issues, the agency said in a statement to The Post in response to the two reports.

“IHS concurs with the recommendations . . . and is committed to building on efforts currently underway to correct the service issues," the IHS told The Post.

Read More on the Story:
Sewage in hospital operating room among poor Indian health conditions (The Washington Post 10/14)
Why Care at Native American Hospitals Is Often Substandard (AP 10/8)

Inspector General Reports:
Indian Health Service Hospitals: More Monitoring Needed to Ensure Quality Care (October 7, 2016)
Indian Health Service Hospitals: Longstanding Challenges Warrant Focused Attention to Support Quality Care (October 7, 2016)

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