The Indian Health Service National Council on Behavioral Health (NCBH) hosted the 2018 National Combined Councils (NCC) Meeting August 14-17, at the Red Lion on the River-Jantzen Beach Hotel in Portland, Oregon.
The purpose of the NCC is to serve as the voice of patient care field operations and teamwork facilitator within the IHS. NCC is comprised of 11 councils that provide consultation to IHS senior leadership on pressing issues that require action from the agency. This year, the NCBH “reimagined NCC” and shifted the meeting’s focus to inter-council collaboration to garner broad input and perspective across direct patient care and administrative roles.
The meeting revolved around the Draft IHS Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-2022. The NCC opened with the IHS Chief Medical Officer Rear Adm. Michael Toedt, M.D., challenging IHS employees to take bold actions to improve the social determinants of health through health equity for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Later in the morning, key IHS staff presented high-level overviews on IHS-wide programs and initiatives, including Tackling the Opioid Crisis, Hepatitis C Elimination, Modernizing the Health IT Infrastructure, Utilizing Public Affairs to Tell the IHS Story, Quality Improvement and Accreditation Resources, Employee Engagement through the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, and the Community Health Aide Program Expansion. The morning concluded with two panel discussions. First, the Phoenix Indian Medical Center shared digital stories on Relationship-Based Care, followed by a collaborative community conversation panel, where experts shared how they have been able to build partnerships to yield change for American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
On day two, the strategic plan’s eight objectives were used to form breakout sessions with participation from each of the 11 national councils. The facilitators led each group to develop actionable recommendations for the agency to further meet its mission, support the future IHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022, and improve our health system.
On day three, the NCC opened with a welcome from the IHS Acting Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee, and a recap from the NCBH Chair, Dr. Phil Rector. Each group from the previous day’s breakout sessions met Rear Adm. Toedt’s challenge to deliver ideas for bold action to improve the IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health system. They presented their ideas and recommendations for change to the NCC audience and IHS senior leadership. IHS senior leadership will consider these ideas as they make final decisions on standing up new national workgroups to implement the IHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022. The morning session ended with a presentation from the IHS Oklahoma City Area Office, Lawton Service Unit, and IHS headquarters, led by IHS Deputy Director for Field Operations Rear Adm. Kevin Meeks, on “Suicide Trends, Prevention & Care in Indian Country.” Finally, each council met one-on-one with IHS senior leadership to discuss challenges and solutions to specific issues for their discipline as well as the agency.
The three-and–a-half day event provided a unique opportunity for 275 participants to conduct routine business for their respective councils, in addition to forming new multidisciplinary collaborations.
Presentations from the opening and closing plenaries will be available soon on the NCC web site.