Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Past Director - Charles Grim
Director, Indian Health Service 2002 to 2007
Charles W. Grim, D.D.S. M.H.S.A, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a former Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). He was appointed by President George W. Bush as the Interim Director in August 2002, received unanimous Senate confirmation on July 16, 2003, and was sworn in by Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), on August 6, 2003, in Anchorage, Alaska. The IHS, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal health care advocate and provider for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
As the IHS Director, Dr. Grim administered a $4 billion nationwide health care delivery program composed of 12 administrative Area Offices. As the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native people, the IHS is responsible for providing preventive, curative, and community health care to approximately 2 million of the nation’s 3.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics, and other settings throughout the United States.
Dr. Grim served as the Vice-Chair of the Secretary’s Intradepartmental Council on Native Americans Affairs (ICNAA). The ICNAA was established by the HHS Secretary to develop and promote HHS-wide policy to provide quality services for American Indians and Alaska Natives; promote Departmental consultation with Tribal governments; develop a comprehensive Departmental strategy that promotes Tribal self-sufficiency and self-determination; and promote the Tribal/federal government–to-government relationship on an HHS-wide basis.
Dr. Grim graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry in 1983 and began his career in the IHS with a 2-year clinical assignment in Okmulgee at the Claremore Service Unit. Dr. Grim was then selected to serve as Assistant Area Dental Officer in the Oklahoma City Area Office. As a result of his successful leadership and management of the complex public health dental program, he was appointed as the Area Dental Officer in 1989 on an acting basis.
In 1992, Dr. Grim was assigned as Director of the Division of Oral Health for the Albuquerque Area of the IHS. He later served as Acting Service Unit Director for the Albuquerque Service Unit, where he was responsible for the administration of a 30-bed hospital with extensive ambulatory care programs and seven outpatient health care facilities. Dr. Grim was later appointed as the Director for the Division of Clinical Services and Behavioral Health for the Albuquerque Area. Dr. Grim was then appointed Acting Executive Officer for the Albuquerque Area.
In April 1998, Dr. Grim transferred to the Phoenix Area as the Associate Director for the Office of Health Programs. In that role, he focused on strengthening the Area’s capacity to deal with managed care issues in the areas of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program of Arizona. He also led an initiative to consult with Tribes about their views on the content to be included in the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, P.L. 94-437.
In 1999, Dr. Grim was appointed as the Acting Director of the Oklahoma City Area Office, and in March 2000 he was selected as the Area Director. As Area Director, Dr. Grim managed a comprehensive program that provides health services to the largest IHS user population, more than 280,000 American Indians comprising 37 Tribes. He was also a member of the Indian Health Leadership Council, composed of IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health program representatives.
In addition to his dentistry degree, Dr. Grim also has a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan. Among Dr. Grim’s honors and awards are the U.S. Public Health Service Commendation Medal (awarded twice), Achievement Medal (awarded twice), Citation, Unit Citation (awarded twice), and Outstanding Unit Citation. He has also been awarded Outstanding Management and Superior Service awards by the Directors of three different IHS Areas. He also received the Jack D. Robertson Award, which is given to a senior dental officer in the United States Public Health Service who demonstrates outstanding leadership and commitment to the organization. In a proclamation from the Oklahoma State Governor, June 11, 2003, was declared “Charles W. Grim Day.” He was also honored by the State of Oklahoma by being selected as a Spirit Award Honoree during their American Indian Heritage Celebration on November 17, 2003.
Dr. Grim is a member of the Commissioned Officers Association, the American Board of Dental Public Health, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, and the Society of American Indian Dentists. Dr. Grim was appointed to the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service in July 1983.