President of Oglala Sioux Tribe welcomes scrutiny of IHS hospital

The Pine Ridge Hospital on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo from Dean Kurtz Construction

A hospital on the Pine Ridge Reservation could lose a key source of funding but the leader of the Oglala Sioux Tribe is welcoming the attention being placed on the troubled facility.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service is threatening to withdraw certification for the Pine Ridge Service Unit. President John Yellowbird Steele said the potential loss of certification from the finally gets the "ball rolling" on much-needed improvements at the facility, KDLT reported.

The hospital is the second in South Dakota that could lose certification from CMS. The other is the Rosebud Service Unit on the neighboring Rosebud Sioux Reservation.

Both facilities are located in the Great Plains Area. A third facility in the region -- the Winnebago Service Unit in Nebraska, which serves the the Omaha Tribe and the Winnebago Tribe. -- lost CMS certification last summer.

All three hospitals have been suffering from quality of care issues for at least five years, according to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The panel released a report in December 2010 that identified long-standing problems at the facilities but tribal leaders have accused the IHS of doing little to improve the situation.

The committee followed up with a hearing and listening session in February and IHS officials have repeatedly promised fixes.

Get the Story:
Pine Ridge Leader Grateful For Inspections Of Tribal Hospitals (KDLT 4/12)
SD Senator Mike Rounds Pushing on IHS for Information (WNAX 4/12)

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Report:
In Critical Condition: The urgent need to reform the Indian Health Service’s Aberdeen Area (December 2010)

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