Indian Health Service (IHS) Director's Corner Bloghttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/directorsblog/IHS updates on important issues affecting the Indian Health Service.en-usWorld Environmental Health Dayhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/director-of-the-division-of-environmental-health-services-indian-health-servicehttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/director-of-the-division-of-environmental-health-services-indian-health-serviceFriday, September 23, 2016 ]]>September 26, 2016 is World Environmental Health Day Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov. This day is recognized around the globe to honor the important work of environmental health professionals.

The IHS Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) delivers a comprehensive environmental health program to more than 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in 35 states. A group of 282 federal and tribal Environmental Health professionals accomplish this work.

CDR Vince Garcia prepares mosquito specimens for West Nile virus testing.
CDR Vince Garcia prepares mosquito specimens for West Nile virus testing.

DEHS staff provide direct services and technical assistance to tribes, collect data for action at the community level, identify and control risk factors that affect the health of the community, implement and evaluate local environmental health projects and interventions, advocate at the federal and regional levels, and build the capacity of tribes to manage their own environmental health programs.

DEHS has identified five national focus areas that serve as our national priorities:

  • Children’s environment
  • Safe drinking water
  • Food safety
  • Vector borne and communicable diseases
  • Healthy homes 

In addition, there are two specialty programs within the DEHS program, Community Injury Prevention and Institutional Environmental Health. 

Orlana Schmidt identifying any safety issues during a playground survey.
Orlana Schmidt identifying any safety issues during a playground survey.

Community Injury Prevention Program - DEHS staff provide expertise in the prevention of both unintentional injury (i.e., motor vehicle crashes, falls) and intentional injury (i.e., suicide, assaults). The Injury Prevention Program places priority on epidemiology, training, partnership building and the implementation of proven intervention strategies to reduce injuries. In 2016, DEHS provided nearly $900,000 to fund tribal cooperative agreement programs and projects to prevent injuries due to motor vehicle crashes and elderly falls.

Institutional Environmental Health Program - The Institutional Environmental Health program provides occupational safety and industrial hygiene services, accreditation consultation and a variety of safety training to IHS and Tribal healthcare facilities. DEHS also provides technical support services in community institutions.

Examples of services provided by DEHS staff to aid in the elimination of environmentally related diseases and injuries are:

Assessment

  • Monitor over 19,000 establishments, including:
    • Food establishments to improve food safety for consumers
    • Healthcare facilities to increase safety, infection control and accreditation compliance
    • Children’s environments (e.g., Head Start programs, schools, day cares) to identify and reduce hazardous environmental conditions to children
    • Homes to identify and reduce environmental hazards for all occupants
    • Complex institutions (e.g., correctional facilities, casinos and recreational facilities) to identify and reduce environmental hazards
    • Water and waste water systems to ensure safe drinking water and safe disposal of waste water
    • Conduct vector borne and communicable disease and injury surveillance and investigation

Policy Development

  • Work with tribal councils and health departments to pass policy and laws that keep people safe (e.g., fire safety, motor vehicle occupant restraint, healthy housing, animal control)

Assurance

  • Provide technical assistance to tribal establishment operators, tribal leaders and others to prevent unhealthy conditions
  • Provide training on issues such as food and water safety, safe housing, emergency preparedness and response, community collaboration, injury prevention and vector borne and communicable diseases
  • Develop the capacity of tribal communities to manage their own environmental health programs

The work of the DEHS program is important, extensive and impactful. Please join me on World Environmental Health Day to recognize our environmental health professionals. If you would like more information about the IHS Environmental Health Program, please visit our website.

CAPT Kelly Taylor is the Director of the Division of Environmental Health Services for the Indian Health Service. She has served American Indians and Alaska Natives for over 26 years.


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Request for Comments: Proposed Rule For the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (CHEF)https://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/request-for-comments-proposed-rule-for-the-catastrophic-health-emergency-fund-chefhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/request-for-comments-proposed-rule-for-the-catastrophic-health-emergency-fund-chefThursday, September 22, 2016 ]]>The comment period for the Proposed Rule for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund will close on October 31, 2016. Written comments by Tribes and Tribal Organizations can be e-mailed to consultation@ihs.gov.

An additional in-person tribal consultation session will be held at the National Congress of American Indians 73rd Annual Convention and Marketplace on October 9, 2016 at 1:00 pm local time at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

An additional telephone tribal consultation session will be held on October 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time. The toll-free call in number is 888-790-3108; the passcode is 4110567.

For additional information, please contact Ms. Terri Schmidt, Acting Director, IHS Office of Resource Access and Partnerships at 301-443-3216.

Terri Schmidt, R.N. is the Acting Director of the Office of Resource Access and Partnerships for the Indian Health Service where she is responsible for providing direction and leadership in the areas of purchased/referred care, business office/third-party collections and partnerships with other Agencies and organizations. Ms. Schmidt is Arapaho and a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.


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Recognizing Alzheimer's Disease: The First Stephttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/recognizing-alzheimer-s-disease-the-first-stephttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/recognizing-alzheimer-s-disease-the-first-stepWednesday, September 21, 2016 ]]>Mrs. B is worried. Last week her husband of over 50 years got lost driving home from church. Then he got mad at her for “talking too much and confusing me.” And, this wasn’t the first time. He’s been making a lot of mistakes with the bills and sometimes gets very irritable. Nobody else in the family seems to notice and he won’t admit it when he makes a mistake. She had to work hard to convince him to come to the clinic because “he hates doctors.”

At the clinic, Mr. B flashes his most charming smile and chats with all of the staff. He greets Dr. W warmly with “Hi Doc, I’m just fine thank you.” When Dr. W asks him questions about his health and medicines he just shrugs, “I don’t pay any attention to that. You can ask the wife about those things. But I’m doing just fine.” When Dr. W turns to Mrs. B she just shakes her head “no.” She doesn’t know what to say.

Warning Signs of Memory Problems

Repeating questions or stories.

Trouble doing ordinary things or usual activities or tasks like paying bills, cooking or simple household chores.

Getting lost in places that should be familiar.

Forgetting time, people and places.

Now Dr. W is paying closer attention and while doing the physical exam talks more with Mr. B, listening carefully to how he answers questions. He asks Mr. B if he has had any trouble with his memory and then turns and asks Mrs. B if she has any worries. Then Dr. W asks Mr. B to do a couple of simple tasks that help identify memory problems. He has a lot of difficulty with these tasks and Dr. W knows that there is a problem here. A more detailed and careful evaluation is needed. Dr. W orders some blood tests to look for the causes of memory problems that can be reversed or cured and schedules a return visit. All the tests are normal.

At the second visit Dr. W does a more detailed neurological and memory examination and asks questions about how well Mr. B is able to manage simple and more complicated daily tasks. With the information from Mr. and Mrs. B and from the tests and exam Dr. W is able to say that Mr. B has memory problems, most likely caused by Alzheimer’s disease. They discuss what this means for Mr. and Mrs. B and their family, what kinds of treatment are available and what kind of help they might need. They can begin to plan for the changes that will come in the future.

By bringing her husband in to be assessed Mrs. B has bravely faced her fears. Now they can begin to adjust and get the help they need.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia causing memory loss and difficulty with activities of daily living visit:

For the people helping people with Alzheimer’s Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

Alzheimer’s care, support and research Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

Dr. Bruce Finke is a family physician and geriatrician who works with the Tribes of the Nashville Area of the IHS and across Indian Country in the development of health care services for the elderly and Long Term Services and Supports.

Dr. Winchester is a geriatrician who works at the Cherokee Indian Hospital and is the Medical Director for the Tsali Care Center, both located in Cherokee, North Carolina.


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Putting Patients First in Patient Registrationhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/putting-patients-first-in-patient-registrationhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/putting-patients-first-in-patient-registrationTuesday, September 20, 2016 ]]>Tobianne Aguilera is more than just an employee at the Patient Registration desk in the Rosebud Hospital. She’s a trusted friend to the patients that walk through the door or call every day. Patients feel comfortable talking with Tobianne because she always has a welcoming smile on her face, kind words to share, and she is genuinely willing to help those who need it.

Tobianne connects so well with the patients who visit the hospital, because she is a community member herself. As a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, she grew up on the Rosebud reservation and utilized the Indian Health Service for her health care needs. Her parents and grandparents are pillars of the community. She attributes her passion for helping people and going into the health care field to her family who taught her to always be caring and helpful, and to live up to her Lakota name, Ota Wic’aku Win, “Gives Plenty Woman.”

Tobianne Aguilera, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, works at the Patient Registration desk at Rosebud Hospital.
Tobianne Aguilera, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, works at the Patient Registration desk at Rosebud Hospital.

Tobianne joined IHS in 2012 first at Sioux San Hospital then transferring to the Rosebud Hospital. Her entire career has been in health care from working at a tribally-owned native women’s clinic in Rapid City to the private sector in obstetrics and pediatrics. Tobianne prides herself on providing good customer service and is always working toward improving patient care at the Rosebud Hospital.

She likes the challenge of working at Patient Registration – a job that is fast-paced, high impact and requires multitasking. She enjoys helping the patients, from getting their medication refilled to scheduling an appointment. The staff at Patient Registration do not just check in patients, they often share information needed about health care programs, education for eligibility, not only for insurance but also for other departments such as Purchased/Referred Care and medical records.

Tobianne, who has two daughters, lives in the hospital housing and spends most of her free time involved in her eldest child’s sports activities.

CAPT Michael Weahkee (Zuni) is the Acting CEO of the Rosebud Service Unit. CAPT Weahkee also served at IHS headquarters in a variety of posts including Executive Officer for the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, Director of the Management Policy and Internal Control Staff; and as Deputy Director for Personnel Functions in the Office of Management Services.


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New Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Heart Toolkits Availablehttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/new-diabetes-prevention-and-healthy-heart-toolkits-availablehttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/new-diabetes-prevention-and-healthy-heart-toolkits-availableThursday, September 15, 2016 ]]>The IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention (DDTP) is pleased to announce the release of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Heart Toolkits. The toolkits will help American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities implement local programs to prevent diabetes and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. 

The SDPI Diabetes Prevention (DP) Toolkit is based on the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov (DPP) research, which showed that losing a small amount of weight through lifestyle changes, can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in diverse populations – including Native people. The DP toolkit will assist programs who wish to implement their own diabetes prevention strategies. The modules in this toolkit provide keys to success and lessons learned from 38 SDPI DP grant programs, including their suggestions on how to incorporate local traditions and cultures. Through the use of videos, case studies and real life examples, the DP toolkit provides information that will help tribes create and sustain their own programs.

Toolkits are now available to use to help create a diabetes prevention or Healthy Heart program in your community.
Toolkits are now available to use to help create a diabetes prevention or Healthy Heart program in your community.

The SDPI Healthy Heart (HH) Toolkit was created to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in AI/AN people, especially those with diabetes. The 30 SDPI HH grantees implemented an intensive case management intervention in Native communities that helped reduce patients’ cardiovascular disease risk by controlling blood pressure; improving cholesterol levels; and encouraging positive behaviors such as tobacco avoidance, increasing physical activity, and eating healthy foods more often. By integrating these types of interventions into patients’ clinical care, programs can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk in individuals both with and without diabetes. This toolkit shares the SDPI HH grantees' strategies, approaches and examples of tools and materials useful for implementing a cardiovascular disease risk reduction program.

DDTP would like to thank the SDPI DP/HH grantees for sharing their experiences so that others will benefit. It is hoped that other communities will use the toolkits to implement their own innovative strategies to reduce diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk – and create healthier futures for American Indian and Alaska Native people.

For more information, visit the Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention page. 

Dr. Ann Bullock is the Director of the IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention. DDTP provides information and resources to strengthen clinical, public health, and community approaches for diabetes treatment and prevention in AI/AN communities throughout the United States.


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Promotion for IHS Urban Program Leaderhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/promotion-for-ihs-urban-program-leaderhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/september2016/promotion-for-ihs-urban-program-leaderFriday, September 9, 2016 ]]>I am very pleased to announce that Sherriann Moore has been appointed as the Director of the Office of Urban Indian Health Programs (OUIHP). She has been with OUIHP for over four years and has been serving as Acting Director of OUIHP for the past year. Sherriann is a member of the Rosebud “Sicangu” Lakota Tribe in South Dakota and has been with the Indian Health Service for more than 15 years.

She has proven herself as an effective and accomplished national leader. She managed the development and implementation of the IHS Policy on Conferring with Urban Indian Organizations, which has led to numerous Urban confer and listening sessions to improve issues like national budget formulation for Urban Indian health programs, effective data reporting, Urban Indian health program expansion, enhancing health information technology, legislation for Urban Indian health, and support for OUIHP contracts and grant programs.

Sherriann Moore, Director of the Office of Urban Indian Health Programs.
Sherriann Moore, Director of the Office of Urban Indian Health Programs.

She will continue to provide national leadership for the 43 Urban programs across the country and work to present the program’s first Urban Confer Report to Congress and the OUIHP Strategic Plan.

The direction and guidance of the Urban Indian Health Program is critical to the overall success of the IHS. Prior to the 1950s, most American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) resided on reservations, in nearby rural towns or in Tribal jurisdictional areas such as Oklahoma. In the era of the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government passed legislation to terminate its legal obligations to the Indian Tribes, resulting in policies and programs to assimilate Indian people into mainstream American society and the relocation of over 160,000 AI/AN to selected urban centers across the country.

Today, a majority of AI/AN’s reside off-reservation. In response to efforts of urban Indian community leaders, Congress appropriated funds to study unmet urban Indian health needs. The findings of this study documented cultural, economic and access barriers to health care and resulted in Congressional appropriations under the Snyder Act to support emerging urban Indian clinics in several Bureau of Indian Affairs relocation cities including Chicago, Denver and San Francisco.

The IHCIA, permanently reauthorized by Congress in 2010, is considered health care reform legislation to improve the health and well-being of all AI/AN, including urban Indians. Title V specific funding is authorized for the development of programs for AI/AN residing in urban areas. Since passage of this legislation, amendments to Title V provided resources for urban Indian health programs in the areas of primary care services, alcohol abuse services, mental health services, HIV, immunizations and health promotion and disease prevention services.

I’m proud to be able to work alongside Sherriann as a colleague and to have an individual who is passionate and dedicated to raising the quality of healthcare in our urban communities.

For additional information, visit the Office of Urban Indian Health programs page. 

P. Benjamin Smith, a member of the Navajo Nation, is the director of the Office of Tribal Self-Governance for IHS. In this role, Mr. Smith oversees all aspects of the administration of the Tribal Self-Governance Program authorized by Title V of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.


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Alaska Area Executive Officer is Career Health Advocatehttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/august2016/alaska-area-executive-officer-is-career-health-advocatehttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/august2016/alaska-area-executive-officer-is-career-health-advocateThursday, August 25, 2016 ]]>Ms. Evangelyn “Angel” Dotomain is more than just an Indian Health Service employee. She is Cup’ik and Inupiaq Eskimo. She knows first-hand the health needs and disparities of Alaska Natives. Ms. Dotomain carries institutional knowledge of running a health board, leading tribal self-governance negotiations and working with tribes to bring quality health care to their communities.

Most recently, Ms. Dotomain was appointed to the position of Executive Officer for the IHS Alaska Area Native Health Service. In this role, she oversees all management operations in support of Area Office programs, services, functions and activities including financial management, human resources and procurement.

Evangelyn “Angel” Dotomain, Executive Officer for the IHS Alaska Area Native Health Service
Evangelyn “Angel” Dotomain, Executive Officer for the IHS Alaska Area Native Health Service

Since joining the Indian Health Service in 2012, Ms. Dotomain has served as the Director of the Office of Tribal Programs in the Alaska Area, as Agency Lead Negotiator, Contract Proposal Liaison Officer, Awards Coordinator and most recently as Supervisor of the Office of Financial Management. 

As an Agency Lead Negotiator, Ms. Dotomain has the delegated authority to negotiate, on behalf of the IHS Director, with Alaska Native Tribes and Tribal organizations under Title V of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Annually, Ms. Dotomain leads negotiations with the 25 Alaska Native Tribes and Tribal organizations who are cosigners to the Alaska Tribal Health Compact. In her role, Ms. Dotomain utilizes her detailed knowledge of IHS, awareness of current policy and practice, and knowledge of the rights and authorities available to Tribes under Title V of the ISDEAA.

Prior to joining the Indian Health Service, Ms. Dotomain served as the Deputy Director of the National Indian Health Board in Washington, D.C., and President/CEO of the Alaska Native Health Board in Anchorage, Alaska. It’s evident that Ms. Dotomain’s interest in tribal health care is significant and that her passion for creating a culture of quality care is abundant. She is definitely a valuable asset to the Alaska Area Office and to the entire Indian health system.

Ms. Dotomain received her Masters of Business Administration in Health Services Administration from Alaska Pacific University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C., where she majored in International Business. In addition, Ms. Dotomain graduated from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s (ANTHC) Leadership Excellence through Advancement and Determination (LEAD) program, which is designed to enhance and expand leadership knowledge, skills and abilities. 

Ms. Dotomain is originally from Shaktoolik, a small Inupiaq village on the west coast of Alaska. She and her family are from the villages of Mekoryuk, Mary’s Igloo and Shaktoolik.

Dr. Kenneth Glifort is the current Acting Alaska Area Director and Chief Medical Officer. The Alaska Area Native Health Service (IHS) works in conjunction with Alaska Native Tribes and Tribal organizations to provide comprehensive health services to 155,000 Alaska Natives (Eskimos, Aleuts, and Indians).


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HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Visits PIMChttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/august2016/hhs-acting-assistant-secretary-for-health-visits-pimchttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/august2016/hhs-acting-assistant-secretary-for-health-visits-pimcThursday, August 11, 2016 ]]>Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Karen DeSalvo, MD, recently met with clinical and nursing leaders at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. Her two-day trip included listening sessions with U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers and the Native Youth Council of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

This was Dr. DeSalvo’s first visit to an IHS service unit and an American Indian reservation, making this event truly historic for all.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Karen DeSalvo, MD (center), stands with PIMC Commissioned Corps officers.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Karen DeSalvo, MD (center), stands with PIMC Commissioned Corps officers.

She was accompanied by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Chief Medical Officer Karen Scott, MD, and Chief of Staff Andrea Harris. Together, they engaged with hospital leadership in interactive discussions about how critical elements of quality are integrated into key service lines. The Phoenix Indian Medical Center has developed clinical pathways based on enhanced protocols and created inter-disciplinary teams that are completely focused on improving outcomes for patients. Two examples include the Peri-Operative Surgical Home Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov and Improving Patient Care through Relationships Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Lloyd Brewer, PIMC oncology patient, tells Dr. DeSalvo that he prefers IHS over the Mayo Clinic because he feels “at home.”
Lloyd Brewer, PIMC oncology patient, tells Dr. DeSalvo that he prefers IHS over the Mayo Clinic because it's where he feels “at home.”

In times of national and international disasters, Commissioned Corps officers at IHS are often called upon for deployments. They are among the most clinically proficient, and are readily able to meet direct care needs of affected populations. This listening session gave Dr. DeSalvo a chance to personally thank officers for their service and created an opportunity for her to hear about the unique challenges they face.

Featured on the tour were the Women and Infant Service Line and the Centers of Excellence for HIV, diabetes, and oncology. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health team learned how PIMC provides care, taking into account the effects limited access to preventive services and higher rates of poverty have on our patients and their families.

Dr. DeSalvo supports Gen-I by meeting with the Native Youth Council of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.
Dr. DeSalvo supports Gen-I by meeting with the Native Youth Council of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

In 2014, the White House launched an initiative called Generation Indigenous Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov, designed to remove the barriers that stand between Native youth and opportunity. In support of Gen-I, Dr. DeSalvo held a listening session with Native youth who shared their perspectives of how health and healthy behaviors are integrated with their traditional, cultural life ways.

The Phoenix Indian Medical Center is grateful for this opportunity to directly connect with the acting assistant secretary for health and share the great news of all we are doing at the Indian Health Service.

Capt. Marie Russell, M.D., MPH, has been an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps since 1994. She earned her medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.


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Native youth get on-the-job training with IHS Pathways Internshipshttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/july2016/native-youth-get-on-the-job-training-with-ihs-pathways-internshipshttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/july2016/native-youth-get-on-the-job-training-with-ihs-pathways-internshipsFriday, July 29, 2016 ]]>American Indian and Alaska Native students, from high school to grad school, can apply for a flexible program designed to ease the transition into federal service. IHS offers the Pathways Internship Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov as a career-building opportunity that allows students to explore federal careers while still in school and pays them for work performed.

The Phoenix Indian Medical Center employs two Pathways students. Tamia Weahkee, a member of the Navajo Nation, is a high school senior. Jeanette Johnson, a member of the Gila River Indian Community, is a junior at Arizona State University.

Tamia Weahkee, a high school student and IHS Pathways intern, reviews Generation Indigenous social media posts.
Tamia Weahkee, a high school student and IHS Pathways intern, reviews Generation Indigenous social media posts.

At fourteen years old, Weahkee decided that she wanted to be a pediatrician. She is very appreciative of this unique opportunity. “It has been an eye-opening experience,” she said. “Pathways has given me the chance to be more hands-on with patients. The internship has also helped expand my organizational skills, detail orientation and ability to manage and balance my time more efficiently.”

The federal hiring process gives weight to work experience. Pathways provides this experience to Native youth applying for entry level positions within the federal service. The program requires interns to complete at least 640 hours of work experience with a flexible schedule to accommodate school and other obligations. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.

“My goal is to finish school and give back to my community through this organization,” Johnson said. “Pathways allows us to come aboard and truly experience the hospital. It also gives us a stepping stone to become a full-time employee of the Indian Health Service after we graduate.”

Jeanette Johnson, an Arizona State University student and IHS Pathways intern, looks forward to giving back to her community after graduation..
Jeanette Johnson, an Arizona State University student and IHS Pathways intern, looks forward to giving back to her community after graduation.

Johnson and Weahkee are assigned to the Office of Community Relations and Tribal Affairs. They are gaining experience in administration and communications.

The Pathways Internship is open to students from a wide variety of educational institutions and requires a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.0. IHS also offers several other opportunities for students. The Indian Health Service is pleased to support American Indian and Alaska Native youth by providing these opportunities for building careers in health!

Capt. Marie Russell, M.D., MPH, has been an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps since 1994. She earned her medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.


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Patient Remains Positive Through Cancer Journeyhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/july2016/patient-remains-positive-through-cancer-journeyhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/july2016/patient-remains-positive-through-cancer-journeyTuesday, July 26, 2016 ]]>Patient P (for positivity), as I will call him, was like other people who go about their daily lives, who utilize the Indian Health Service for their physical needs, but Patient P knew when something was wrong. He was feeling bloated and he knew that he needed to go to IHS for a checkup. This led to a course of treatment that led to medication therapy and a follow up for unexplained loss of blood and abdominal pain. Through lab tests, as well as continuity of care with a local oncologist, it was determined that Patient P had a form of lymphoma. 

Patient P was determined, as was the Green care team at IHS that this was something that we could get answers for, and so the continuity of care cycle ran strong. This is where IHS Fort Washakie, located on the Wind River Indian Reservation, stepped in to fill a gap of understanding, of facilitation and of patient focused culturally competent care. 

We were able to utilize home health care during this process where there were weekly lab tests and continual calls regarding the best options available. Patient P was eventually directed to the University of Colorado in Denver where he started treatment for Burkitt’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. 

Due to the rural nature of some IHS facilities, traveling icy roads back and forth between Denver and IHS Fort Washakie was a complicated situation. Patient P had a support system, his family was diligent, he was positive, and his bright spirit and smile showed bravery and it enhanced his healing process.

The next few months saw positive test results, Patient P was able to gain back weight, his vital signs became progressively better and his strength began to return. Patient P’s care continued at IHS, wound care became a daily occurrence, wound surveillance led to understanding when intervention was needed, surgeons were consulted, and the positive track of healing continued. 

Patient P has expressed his thankfulness to the individuals at his IHS Medical Home, but truly the thanks goes to him, he has survived the hardest part of the battle, and his care team will be here to help with continued medical care on what will likely be a lively and long life.

Empowerment of individuals, helping them understand the process of care, facilitating what is necessary so patients can take an educated active role in their healing; that is a positive role that IHS Fort Washakie will continue to assist with and achieve for the people we serve.

Mr. Bryce Redgrave, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, is the Executive Officer of the Billings Area of the Indian Health Service. In this position, Mr. Redgrave provides leadership to the Billings Area and oversees the delivery of health care to more than 70,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives on seven reservations in Montana and one in Wyoming.


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