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Office of Environmental Health and Engineering

Division of Environmental Health Services

IHS Division of Environmental Health Services Logo

The DEHS team is dedicated to enhancing the health and quality of life of Tribal communities to the highest possible level by eliminating environmentally related disease and injury. Through shared decision making, using evidence-based strategies and best practices, the DEHS prioritizes and implements a comprehensive environmental health program in order to best serve Tribal communities, members, and IHS facilities. The purpose of these services is to identify environmental risk factors and provide technical assistance to prevent adverse health outcomes and to aid in their correction/mitigation. The program provides services in three broad categories: 1) general environmental health, 2) institutional environmental health and, 3) community injury prevention. In addition to these categories, the DEHS also strives to focus on the five identified environmental health areas that serve as the DEHS national priorities.

Division of Sanitation Facilities Construction

Coordinates funding for P.L. 86-121 sanitation facilities construction projects for the Bemidji Area Tribes. Funding is distributed by Headquarters, in bulk, to Areas through national needs-based program formula processes. Funding for program management is accomplished through Environmental Health Support Account - SFC.

Areas allocate funds to Tribes through individual projects prioritized through two prioritization systems: IHS Area sanitation deficiency systems (SDS) and housing priority systems (HPS). These prioritization systems have considerations that include Tribal priority, health impacts, feasibility, and need. Projects provide essential sanitation facilities including: 1) individual and community water supplies and facilities, 2) wastewater treatment and wastewater disposal facilities together with necessary appurtenances and fixtures and 3) solid waste collection and disposal systems for Indian homes, communities, and lands. Projects are executed in accordance with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which includes a mutually agreed upon project scope of work and methodology for funding. Funding for a constructed project can occur through provisions of the MOA, direct federal procurement, or in accordance with P.L. 93-638 Subpart J or N. IHS Construction project funds are provided as Regular funds through SDS or Housing Funds through HPS. IHS funds also include special and emergency funds. Through P.L. 86-121, funds may be included from other sources such as tribal, USEPA, HUD, USDA, etc.

The DSFC Program is funded through the Environmental Health Support Account (EHSA). The program includes engineering and project management support for water, wastewater and solid waste projects in the Bemidji Area and serves to allocate resources fairly among all the Tribes in the Bemidji Area. The Area DSFC program maintains Sanitation Deficiency system inventories (SDS) for existing Indian homes in accordance with the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. This includes confirmation of Tribal data and determination of O&M scoring levels to ensure project eligibility and scoring criteria are consistently and fairly applied to all Tribes in the Area, and advocating to Agency on regional issues impacting SDS.

Tribal Utility Consultants Program

The Bemidji Area DSFC includes a Tribal Utility Consultant program that consists of the program manager at the Area level and three consultants, one in each state of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. These individuals perform the USEPA required sanitary surveys for drinking water systems, develop the SDS O&M scoring levels, provides professional advice and they are available to offer expert troubleshooting when problems occur. The underlying intent of the TUC program is to optimize the constructed project and extend the working life cycle of valuable infrastructure to the greatest extent possible.

Division of Facilities Management

DFM Coordinates funding for Maintenance and Improvement (M&I) projects for the Bemidji Area Tribes. Funding is distributed by Headquarters, in bulk, to Areas by formula. Funding for program management is accomplished through Facilities Support Account. M&I resources are limited to funding for maintenance and repair of health facilities (real property). M&I funds are distributed to field sites based on an allocation methodology (University of Oklahoma formula). A fixed percentage of the M&I funds amount are included in the Area Pool and distributed competitively by project. M&I earmarks are determined according the annual Facilities Engineering Plan (FEP) and distributed or applied accordingly. Funding for program management is accomplished through Facilities Support Account (FSA). FSA also funds maintenance activities at the Federal Service Units. FSA funds support of the national health care facilities planning and construction program (engineering services (ES) support and health care facilities construction). Congress individually funds new health care facility projects and provides funds for Joint Venture and Small Ambulatory Grants. FSA funds program management for those projects.

Medical Equipment Management Program

Management and support of health facilities which include the selection, acquisition, maintenance, and monitoring of patient care equipment's operation and functions. Services are delivered in accordance with the scope of services for the Medical Equipment Management Program. The funding methodology for the program scope of services derives from the tribally provided H&C Shares. Services are provided in two service levels:

Preventive Maintenance and Electrical Safety/Inspection Testing.

Repair, installation and other equipment related services. These may be provided in addition to basic preventive maintenance services. Costs to cover the additional work are largely associated with travel related to the services delivered beyond the preventive Maintenance program for equipment at the facility.

Also, funds to modernize or replace existing medical equipment or provide newer equipment in existing programs are provided in the Facilities Appropriation. These funds are allocated to Tribal and federal programs on a formula basis to supplement ongoing replacement of existing medical equipment.