Health | Opinion

Ivan Star Comes Out: Oceti Sakowin suffer at Indian Health Service






Ivan F. Star Comes Out

Nepotism, cronyism, and racism leads to poor health care at Pine Ridge
By Ivan F. Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist
nativesunnews.today

My daughter was returning from Dickinson, North Dakota, on Sunday, October 19, 2016, when she experienced chest and shoulder pain while gassing up in Newell, South Dakota. She called home immediately and her mother said for her to call 911. Aware of the costs of an ambulance ride, she decided to go to the Fort Meade Medical Center located in Sturgis, a few miles south of her location.

Later, she called again and said the EKG indicated her heart was not the problem. However, her glucose level was extremely high. The ER physician administered an insulin injection and took readings until her glucose level came down. My daughter is not a veteran but the Emergency Room (ER) very humanely accepted her and even treated her without question.

I know she will be billed for that visit but as parents we are more than willing to pay and appreciate the care. She was released with instructions to see her provider as soon as possible. She planned to go to the Indian Health Service (IHS) facility the next day. Later that night (11:15 p.m.) though, she took another reading using her mother’s glucometer and found that her glucose level was back up to 300-plus.

She and her mother decided to go to the ER at the IHS facility in Pine Ridge. While the wife prepared for the 48-mile (round) trip, our daughter called ahead to explain her situation. However, the ER told her there was nothing they could do for her there. Having experienced this all of my life, I should have acclimatized to this kind of behavior. However, we were all stunned.

We discussed our possibilities. The IHS facility in Rapid City is an hour away. We knew the Contract Health program (IHS) will deny coverage if she went to any other facility without a referral. So, as seasoned diabetic parents, we decided to “treat” her with our own medical supplies. We followed the VA’s earlier treatment by giving her another 10 cc of insulin and monitored the results.

Her glucose level slowly improved but remained considerably high. We knew she needed to see a specialist but weren’t sure if the IHS facility here in Pine Ridge would be open the next day (Monday, October 10) since it was a federal holiday (Native American Day).

We discussed filing a complaint with “tribal” government’s standing committee that oversees this facility. However, such complaints have gone unresolved in the past and I personally suspect tribal government officials have relatives employed with IHS. Eventually, an IHS patient advocate set up an appointment for our daughter to see a specialist on Wednesday, October 19.


Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Nepotism, cronyism, and racism leads to poor health care at Pine Ridge

(Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at PO Box 147, Oglala, SD 57764; 605-867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News