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October 2, 2023: IHS Updates for Tribes and Tribal and Urban Indian Organizations

This bi-weekly update provides up to date information on Indian Health Service and other federally-hosted meetings, conferences, deadlines and recognition from across the Indian health system. For more information or questions, email

Advanced Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2024

We are excited the IHS received advance appropriations for fiscal year 2024, which means that in the event of a lapse of appropriations any time after October 1, all IHS staff will continue to report to work and continue to be paid. While IHS would continue to operate business as usual in the event of a lapse in appropriations, I am asking all employees to be mindful of the impact a lapse in appropriations may have on other parts of the federal government and the American people. You can find additional information on IHS advance appropriations here. Director Roselyn Tso expresses her appreciation to every IHS employee for your continued dedication and contributions to the IHS mission and the American Indians and Alaska Natives we serve.

Celebrating One-Year Anniversary as IHS Director

Last week marked one year since Director Tso took on the role of IHS director. Ms. Tso had the following to say regarding this milestone achievement:

“It is an honor to serve alongside you, our IHS family, as we work collaboratively to meet the mission and goals of the IHS. I have the great privilege to be a part of a legacy of public service by all those who came before me. As we continue our work, let us all reflect on what we have done and then move the agency forward to advance the health of all American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout Indian Country. As I embark on my second year as director, I want to continue to recognize and acknowledge the immense amount of work you do. It is hard to believe that it has been a full year already. I am proud of the list of accomplishments to celebrate, including many hours of hard work by every IHS employee that lifts up the lives of those we serve.”

Celebrating One-Year Anniversary as IHS Director

World Alzheimer’s Day

On World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, the IHS reaffirmed its commitment to building tribal and urban Indian health system capacity to address Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by announcing $1.5 million in new cooperative agreements. The IHS Alzheimer’s Grant Program aims to develop and enhance models that incorporate comprehensive approaches to care and service for people living with dementia and their caregivers.

After its pioneering allocation of funds last year, the IHS remains steadfast in its mission to support those facing dementia challenges in tribal communities, including both undiagnosed and diagnosed patients and their caregivers. Cooperative agreement awardees will join 2022 awardees and continue efforts in designing and executing locally developed, innovative models that prioritize culturally competent screening, diagnosis, and management of persons living with dementia and their caregivers.

The IHS is also committed to collaborating with various federal agencies and non-governmental organizations. This ongoing collaboration aims to enhance IHS initiatives related to Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias, with a particular focus on workforce training and community outreach and awareness building.

Alzheimer Grant Program Visits in California

Alzheimer Grant Program Visits in California

In mid-September, the Elder Health Team of the IHS Alzheimer’s Grant Program visited two grant recipients—the Indian Health Council, Inc. of Valley Center, California, and the Northern Valley Indian Health at Chico, California. The Indian Health Council showcased its expertise through in-depth discussions with its senior and project leadership teams about dementia screening tools, electronic health record data mining opportunities, collaboration with their diabetes program, and culturally sensitive case management. Northern Valley Indian Health has a dedicated team of community health specialists addressing dementia care, with year two plans including the introduction of a mobile health care unit to expand services, expansion of Mini-Cog and AD8 screening tool use, opportunities for electronic health record system enhancements, introduction of an evidence-based caregiver intervention, and launching a memory cafe to reach rural communities. Both experiences were helpful and instructive, built on mutual respect and a shared mission to improve health care services for tribal communities relative to elder health needs.

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

IHS representatives and Indian Health Council, Inc. staff

IHS representatives and Northern Valley Indian Health staff

IHS representatives and Northern Valley Indian Health 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 existing training resources, and reimbursement of accreditation fees for IHS, tribal, and urban emergency departments interested in seeking geriatric ED accreditation. The aim is to assist sites in applying by the February 2024 application due date. The new cohort will join the nine IHS and tribal EDs that have already achieved the Level 3 – Bronze accreditation offered by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Why participate? The number of Native older adults ages 65 and older is expected to triple in the next 30 years, with those 85 years and older growing even quicker. As age increases, so does the number of ED visits. Geriatric accredited EDs reduce the chance of avoidable patient admissions and re-visits while improving patient outcomes and satisfaction. To learn more about GEDA or how to participate in the next cohort, contact Ardith Aspaas at or click here.

Biden-Harris Administration Awards $600 Million to Bolster US Manufacturing of COVID-19 Tests and Announces the Re-Opening of

On Wednesday, HHS, through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, announced an investment of $600 million across 12 domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers and the reopening of to deliver COVID-19 tests for free to households across the country. These critical investments in U.S. manufacturing will improve preparedness for COVID-19 and other pandemic threats of the future, strengthen the nation’s capacity to manufacture tests, and secure approximately 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for future federal government use.

Information Systems Advisory Committee Semi-Annual Meeting

On September 6-7, the IHS Information Systems Advisory Committee met for the fall semi-annual meeting. Deputy Chief Information Officer Andrea Scott gave committee members an overview of the recent Partnership Conference and the importance of working together to provide high-quality health care across Indian Country. She also shared highlights from the Tribal Summit and Caucus, at which tribal and urban Indian organization members participated in a question-and-answer session with CIO Mitchell Thornbrugh about the Health Information Technology Modernization Program. Thornbrugh also provided an update on the program, which is currently in the "Buy and Build" phase with an expected announcement of the Electronic Health Record vendor selection in the coming months.

Information Systems Advisory Committee Semi-Annual Meeting

Director’s Workgroup on Improving PRC Meeting in Denver

The IHS Director’s Workgroup on Improving Purchased/Referred Care met this week in Denver. I had the opportunity to meet with tribal and federal workgroup representatives, who were able to receive important program updates on the IHS medical priorities and health IT modernization efforts. They also discussed matters of importance to the PRC Program, including the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund, PRC delivery area expansion activities, and program challenges and successes. The workgroup will meet again in January 2024.

Director’s Workgroup on Improving PRC Meeting in Denver

Navajo Nation Opioid Summit

On September 28-29, Director Tso was honored to attend and provide closing remarks at the first Navajo Nation Opioid Summit hosted by Navajo Nation Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services and IHS Navajo Area. Members from a variety of professions and the community united at the summit to engage and learn about what are opioids, how they affect a person and community, what services and treatments are available to fight opioid overdoses, and statistics about opioid overdoses. In her remarks, the Director thanked the organizers and audience for bringing the opioid topic to the table to educate ourselves and come together to fight this vicious illness.

Navajo Nation Opioid Summit

IHS Celebrates National Midwifery Week

National Midwifery Week is October 1-7. Certified Nurse Midwives are advanced practice registered nurses who work in a variety of settings including outpatient facilities, birthing centers and inpatient hospital units throughout the Indian Health Service health care system. The Division of Nursing Services recognizes CNMs for their important roles, improving access to high quality women’s health and maternity care, especially in critical access areas. Please take a moment during National Midwifery Week to thank a CNM for their contributions to ensure American Indian and Alaska Native communities receive access to this time sensitive care.

NIHS Celebrates National Midwifery Week

Northern Navajo Medical Center Certified Nurse Midwives

Annual Safe States Alliance Conference

The IHS Injury Prevention Program, Tribal Injury Prevention Cooperative Agreement Program, and the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the University of Colorado hosted a learning lab at the annual Safe States Alliance Conference on September 12. The session—Collaborating with Tribal Communities on Injury Prevention Initiatives—was attended by 73 individuals working in injury prevention at universities, local and state health departments, non-profit organizations, and the federal government.

The panel of experts included Tim Wildcat, DEHS director, Great Plains Area; Hunter Simpson, TIPCAP coordinator, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California; Sixtus Dominguez, TIPCAP coordinator, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board; and Casey Crump, injury prevention specialist, Bemidji Area. They discussed building trust, breaking down barriers, incorporating Indigenous and cultural practices into everyday work, and adapting evidence-based strategies to be more effective in tribal communities.

Additionally, a video compilation from multiple TIPCAP awardees outlined the specific work being done to address the injury disparities locally. Thank you to our partners for giving us a voice on this national stage.

Collaborating with Tribal Communities on Injury Prevention Initiatives panel
IHS Injury Prevention Specialist Cmdr. Andrea Tsatoke and IHS Injury Prevention Program Manager Cmdr. Molly Madson

(Photo 1) Collaborating with Tribal Communities on Injury Prevention Initiatives panel
(Photo 2) IHS Injury Prevention Specialist Cmdr. Andrea Tsatoke and IHS Injury Prevention Program Manager Cmdr. Molly Madson

TIPCAP Hosts Workshop

On September 14-15, the IHS-funded Tribal Injury Prevention Cooperative Agreement Program hosted its first in-person workshop since 2019. TIPCAP coordinators and partners from 27 tribes, tribal organizations, and urban programs gathered in Denver to talk about their comprehensive injury prevention programs and share their work and ideas with the group. The workshop had video presentations created by the TIPCAP coordinators in their tribal communities, a Bingocize demonstration, networking, award ceremony, and evaluation and sustainability planning for the last two years of the five-year funding cycle. Thank you to Jenn Russell and her team at the University of Colorado’s Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, who were essential in delivering a successful workshop.

TIPCAP Hosts Workshop

TIPCAP Coordinators, Tribal Partners, UCD CAIANH team, and IHS staff

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

  • TBHCE in collaboration with the Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention is hosting “Behavioral Health Integration Webinar Series: Diabetes Motivational Interviewing in Integrated Care Settings” on October 12 at 12 p.m. ET | Register here

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