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October 17, 2023: IHS Updates for Tribes and Tribal and Urban Indian Organizations

This bi-weekly update provides up to date information on recent events, meetings, conferences, upcoming deadlines, and recognition of the work being done across the Indian Health Service, other federal agencies, and Indian Country. For more information or questions, email

Fiscal Year 2024 Advance Appropriations and Continuing Resolution

The Indian Health Service received its first ever advance appropriations for Fiscal Year 2024, which means a majority of IHS funding for FY 2024 became available on October 1. This significant achievement means that the IHS is in a position to maintain continuity of operations and that there is increased funding stability for the Indian health system. On October 1, the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2024 and Other Extensions Act” was enacted, which funds the federal government through November 17. The FY 2024 continuing resolution does not affect IHS advance appropriations that are already appropriated for a full fiscal year. The IHS has completed fiscal year transition activities in record time and is already making payments with FY 2024 funds.

IHS Announces New National STI Initiative and Toolkit

Last week the IHS announced the IHS National STI Initiative, designed to ensure access to quality community education, prevention, testing, and treatment services for Tribal communities to reduce the burden of sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, congenital syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. Rates of STIs have been on the rise nationally, while Tribal communities have been disproportionately impacted. This requires a proactive clinical and public health response across the IHS system of care.

In collaboration with the IHS Chief Clinical Consultant in Infectious Diseases, the IHS National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, and the HIV/Hep C/STI Program, we have created an STI Toolkit to promote awareness, enhance prevention, and support effective testing and treatment as we seek to mitigate the risk of STIs in Indian Country.

The IHS STI Toolkit contains important resources including:

For more information about this important topic, join the Indian Country Infectious Disease ECHO clinic on October 19 at 12 p.m. MT. This one-hour Infectious Disease ECHO virtual clinic will provide an opportunity to be updated on Syphilis 101, presented by Dr. Jonathan Iralu, MD, MACP, FISDA, and will engage in challenging case discussions. Continuing Education will be provided. Join here at the time of the meeting; (Password: ECHO)

Together, we can reduce the impact of STIs in Indian Country as we seek to promote awareness, enhance prevention, support access to early testing and treatment, and ensure quality clinical and public health services for the Tribal communities that we serve.

Recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to honor and remember those lost to abuse, celebrate and support survivors, and focus on awareness and prevention of domestic violence. Preventing domestic violence is an urgent goal, yet it remains a pressing issue that disproportionately affects our American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The IHS is committed to the development of evidence- and practice-based models for domestic violence prevention through a culturally appropriate approach and community-driven context. The IHS Office of Clinical and Preventive Services Division of Behavioral Health has awarded 41 grants to Tribes, Tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations to advance prevention efforts for addressing domestic violence and sexual assault in Indian Country. To enhance prevention efforts and further build capacity, the Division of Nursing Services has provided 16 federally-operated IHS sites with forensic healthcare funding opportunities, ensuring patients have access to medical forensic services following violent crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, or intimate partner violence. Read more in our latest IHS blog.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

NEW 2024 Funding Opportunity

The IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention announces a new 2024 funding opportunity for all federally recognized Tribes, Tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, and/or federal health care facilities that currently do not have a 2023 Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant. The 2024 Special Diabetes Program for Indians 2.0 (SDPI-2) will be a 4-year program to address diabetes treatment and prevention efforts in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Applications are due by November 29, and additional application information is available on the IHS website. If you have any questions, please contact the IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention at or 844-447-3387.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

National Pharmacist Month

October is designated as American Pharmacist Month to acknowledge and celebrate the significant contributions pharmacists and their teams make to health care and the communities they serve. IHS pharmacists play integral roles in our health care system, from the front line in providing patient care, medication management, and public health initiatives, to supporting patient safety, integrated teams, quality improvement, accreditation, and reimbursement, along with many other roles. Thank you IHS pharmacists and pharmacy teams for your service to improving the health and wellness of those we serve.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff
IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff
IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

(Photo 1) Oklahoma City Area Annual Pharmacy Conference
(Photo 2) Northern Tier Pharmacy Conference
(Photo 3) Billings Area Pharmacy Director’s Meeting

Celebrating Emergency Nurses Week

This year, Emergency Nurses Week was recognized from October 8-14 and Emergency Nurses Day was on October 11. At the IHS, emergency nurses stand ready to deliver care at the most unexpected times. They are the people who run toward the crises to assess and stabilize. Their quick critical-thinking skills, steady hands, and calm demeanor speak to their knowledge and expertise. Emergency nurses care for patients across the lifespan, from delivering babies to assisting elders in the community. They are there to offer compassion to the unsheltered or resuscitate a trauma patient. Regardless of the call, an emergency nurse is ready without warning. Join us in recognizing these very important health care heroes during Emergency Nurses Week.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

Now Recruiting: New Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation Cohort

The IHS Division of Nursing Services, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Grant Program, will offer technical assistance, access to training resources, and reimbursement of accreditation fees for IHS and Tribal emergency departments interested in geriatric ED accreditation. Geriatric accredited EDs reduce the chance of avoidable admissions and re-visits, while improving patient outcomes and satisfaction. Join nine IHS and Tribal EDs with Bronze – Level 3 accreditation governed by the American College of Emergency Physicians. To learn more about GEDA or how to participate, email or visit the IHS Alzheimer’s website.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

Champions for Improving Pain and Addiction Care

The IHS pilot site champions for improving pain and addiction care in their local emergency departments gathered last week in Rapid City in conjunction with the 5th Annual Emergency Medicine in Rural and Indigenous Communities Conference. The champions discussed the successes of their programs, in addition to challenges that occurred in their local areas. Colleagues from the American College of Emergency Physicians joined to provide education and expertise on these topics and further support the champions in their efforts. If you are interested in improving pain and addiction care in your local ED, please reach out to national project manager, Lt. Cmdr. Kristin Allmaras.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

Clinicians from the Bemidji, Great Plains, Navajo and Oklahoma City Areas, members from the Division of Behavioral Health, colleagues from the American College of American Physicians, and HOPE Committee Leadership gather in Rapid City, SD.

2023 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science & Practice

Earlier this month, Nicole Stahlmann and Billie Brown, both forensic nurse experts from the Division of Nursing Services, connected with nearly 70 forensic health care professionals at the 2023 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science & Practice in Phoenix. This collaborative event, attended by federal, Tribal, and urban Indian facility staff, has ignited enthusiasm and inspiration among our nurses. They gained valuable forensic health care education and training, ready to elevate their professional practice. This collective effort will greatly enhance forensic health care for patients and families affected by violent crimes.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

Federal, Tribal, and urban Indian forensic health care providers attended the IAFN conference from the Great Plains Area, Billings Area, Oyate Health Center, Lawton Indian Hospital, Whiteriver Service Unit, Gila River Health Care, San Carlos Apache Healthcare, Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, Tuba City Regional Health Care, Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center, Tahlequah (Cherokee National Health Center), to name a few

Nurse of the Month – October 2023

The IHS Division of Nursing Services is pleased to announce the recipient of the Nurse of the Month for October 2023, Melanie Tuamoheloa, BSN, RN, an enrolled member of the Omaha Tribe and a primary care clinic manager in the Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System, IHS Great Plains Area. As a nursing leader, she demonstrates skillful leadership qualities using emotional intelligence, staff inclusion, shared-governance, and promotes the profession of nursing. Melanie’s ultimate focus is excellent patient care and community wellness through rigorous quality metrics and patient outcomes. She is instrumental in supporting staff recognition by implementing the recent Daisy Award Recognition program, is an effective communicator with great listening skills, assisting in developing a Sexual Wellness Clinic, telemedicine clinic visits, seeking blood pressure cuffs for hypertensive patients, and thermometers for parents of young children. Melanie is more than just accountable and responsible for her practice, she is committed to the patients, helping advocate in every way for the best possible care. Congratulations, Melanie! Read more.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

IHS Headquarters Welcomes New Senior Public Health Advisor

Lt. Shawnell Damon has joined the Indian Health Service headquarters team as the new senior public health advisor. Lt. Damon, a member of the Navajo Nation, has a deep connection to her heritage. She brings a wealth of experience having worked in various roles, including as an epidemiologist and health promotion disease prevention coordinator. With a Master's in Public Health and ongoing studies towards a Doctorate in Public Health, Lt. Damon is well-equipped to lead the development of a sustainable public health infrastructure and enhance public health advisories and messaging across Indian Country.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence Tele-Education Webinar Series

The Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence Tele-Education Program is hosting the following training for health care providers:

  • “Pain and Opioid Use Disorder Webinar Series: Clinical Pearls for Treating Hospitalized Patients with Opioid Use Disorder” on October 19 at 2 p.m. ET | Register here.
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