Senate bill could save Yankton Sioux emergency room

The Senate approved an appropriations bill that could save the emergency clinic on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

An amendment in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide up to $500,000 to the 24-hour clinic in Wagner. The money is subject to the discretion of the VA.

The amendment was introduced by Sen. John Thune (R). He said the money will preserve a clinic that members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe credit with saving lives but which the Indian Health Service has put on the chopping block.

"I support keeping the current level of operations at the Wagner Service Unit emergency room because it provides vital services to the community," Thune said. "That is why I have been aggressively exploring ways to prevent the reduction in emergency room hours."

The bill still has to be reconciled with the House version before it can be passed by Congress and send to President Bush.

Relevant Links:
Yankton Sioux Tribe -

Related Stories:
Yankton Sioux Tribe fights for emergency room (10/05)
Editorial: Good work in keeping tribe's ER open (02/16)
Yankton Sioux Tribe emergency room gets reprieve (02/01)
Yankton Sioux Tribe to lose emergency room (1/23)