E.R. on S.D. Reservation Reopening

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A shuttered emergency room at a government-run hospital on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation is reopening after seven months.

Chris Buchanan, acting Great Plains area director for the Indian Health Service, told tribal officials in an email that the facility was reopening July 15, the Argus Leader newspaper reported. It’s been closed since December, after federal inspectors found staffing shortages and substandard medical screenings provided to patients.

Since then, nine people have died and five babies have been delivered in ambulances on their way to other facilities, according to tribal officials.

Reopening the department with the help of the contracted group AB Staffing Solutions is one of the requirements the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services set for the hospital to maintain its ability to bill to that agency, a key source of funding.

The IHS is responsible for providing health care to enrolled tribal members as part of the government’s treaty obligations to Native American tribes.

Rosebud tribal members are hopeful about the emergency room’s reopening but remain skeptical about the quality of health care there, according to William Bear Shield, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Health Board.
“All we can do is hope and pray that it works out,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., who is sponsoring legislation aimed at improving health care for tribes, issued a statement Thursday saying the reopening of the Rosebud emergency room provides hope but that “it is not the end of our work.”

“The problems that led to the grave conditions in Rosebud remain,” she said, adding that reforms such as giving tribes a role in running IHS facilities “must be made if we are going to see the lasting improvements tribal communities deserve.”

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