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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Community health representative: The first tribally contracted program, since 1968 - American indian paraprofessional healthcare providers


Accomplishments and awards

It is with great pride that the IHS National Community Health Program recognizes the Blackfeet Tribe’s CHR Program for its exemplary service to patients and community through collaboration and partnerships.

Beginning in 2004, the Blackfeet CHR Program enthusiastically embraced a national CHR initiative involving Angel Flight (then Airlifeline). AngelFlight is a national, non-profit organization of private pilots who donate their time, skills, aircraft and fuel to fly ambulatory patients to receive medical care at no cost to the patient or family.

This initial project required intense coordination with and through a variety of entities including medical and business office staff at the local IHS and destination health facility, other community resources such as American Cancer Society and Ronald McDonald Houses at those destination sites, patients and their families, local airport authorities, tribal officials, and of course staff and volunteer pilots of AngelFlight who are the genius and heart of these services to needy and underserved patients.

Under the guidance of Ms. Mary Ellen LaFrambeoise, Director, and Jolene Potts, CHR, the Blackfeet CHR Program has shown tremendous initiative and dedication to ensure that patients and family member escorts are provided transportation to medical care in such places as Salt Lake City UT, Seattle WA, Portland OR, Rochester IL, etc. The positive impact on families is unforgettable and cherished. This CHR Program has facilitated access to medical care in a number of ways, including but not limited to

  • orienting community/hospital/airfield/patient staff to the availability of this service; setting up transportation to/from airfields at the departing and arriving destinations;
  • coordinating lodging if necessary;
  • ensuring language barriers were overcome;
  • assistance with completing forms;
  • providing cultural training and information to non-Indian volunteer pilot staff;
  • providing points of contact information for patients and pilots;
  • acting as communication links between patients and family members back home, etc.

Further, the Blackfeet CHR Program was instrumental in outreach efforts to assist the IHS facility’s Benefits Coordinator to enroll eligible AI/AN children in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as an alternative billing resource, resulting in an increase of 55% in SCHIP enrollments and reimbursement opportunities for the facility and allowing funds for additional health care services to patients.

For exemplary service and the relentless pursuit of collaborative and cost-effective health care services to tribal members and the community, it is indeed an honor to present the Blackfeet CHR Program with this national CHR Program award.

Blackfeet Awardees
Blackfeet Tribal CHR Program Awardees, AngelFlight and IHS Staff

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