Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Mismanagement at Indian Health Service

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs spent two days in South Dakota in June 2016, learning more about problems at the Indian Health Service. Photo by SCIA

Mismanagement of our healthcare dollars
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

Frustration was building inside me as I sat and listened to the testimony of patients who have been adversely affected by inadequate healthcare provided by Indian Health Services at a recent town hall meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

I waited to speak hoping someone would bring up several serious concerns I have with Indian Health Care. A lot of issues were discussed that are extremely important, including testimony from Daphne Richards Cook who spoke about health care coverage for Indian residents who live outside Pennington County and not eligible for services provided by IHS.

However some of my concerns were never covered and as a journalist, I just had to speak.

One of the concerns I spoke about to the Committee was being able to navigate the system in order to get an appointment and be seen by a provider. It took me awhile to figure out just how to make and get an appointment.

It used to be that we could go to Sioux San, sign in and wait. If you had the time, it was a really good system. But for some reason IHS did away with that and now if you want a same day appointment you are to call at 7:30 a.m. and hope someone answers the phone. Well good luck with that, as it hasn’t worked for me and probably won’t anytime soon.

Your next option is to make an appointment with a provider and appointments are scheduled at least three months ahead of time. One time I waited for three months to get seen and when it was time for my appointment I was told my Dr. went on vacation and my appointment had to be rescheduled. Another three month wait.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: Mismanagement of our healthcare dollars

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

Government Accountability Office Report:
INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Patient Wait Times (April 29, 2016)

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

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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