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Indian Health Service hires deputy medical officer in Great Plains

Filed Under: Health | National
More on: chris buchanan, employment, ihs, lee lawrence, mechele peterson
     
   

Indian Health Service Principal Deputy Director Mary Smith at the Rosebud Powwow, held on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota in August 2016 . Photo by IHS

The Indian Health Service continues to address quality of care issues in a troubled region of the country.

Mechele M. Peterson will be serving as the deputy chief medical officer for the Great Plains Area. She comes to the region from the Tséhootsooí Medical Center, an IHS facility located in Fort Defiance, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation.

“Dr. Peterson is not only a highly qualified physician, she is also a proven leader with administration experience within the Indian health system,” Chris Buchanan, the acting director of the Great Plains Area, said in a press release on Monday. “As deputy chief medical officer, Dr. Peterson will help ensure all of our hospitals, health stations, clinics and facilities in the Great Plains Area provide quality, comprehensive health care.”

Peterson's hire follows the selection of Lee Lawrence as the new chief medical officer for the region. He is new to the agency, having come from the private sector.

Lawrence replaced Susan Karol, a member of the Tuscarora Nation whom tribal leaders in South Dakota said wasn't the right person for the job due to comments she made about newborns.

The Great Plains Area includes facilities in Nebraska and South Dakota that are considered among the worst in Indian Country. Tribal leaders have long complained of substandard care but fixes have been slow to arrive, according to two new investigative reports.

The Great Plains serves about 130,000 patients in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and North Dakota, according to the IHS.

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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