The emergency room at the Indian Health Service run Rosebud Hospital is reopening after being closed for more than seven months.
The head of IHS says this is the first of many improvements for Rosebud and other Great Plains tribal hospitals.
Federal officials shut down the Rosebud Hospital Emergency Room in December following reports of unsanitary conditions and malpractice. Since then, tribal officials say nine people have died in-route to the next nearest hospitals. That distance could be as much as 50 miles away.
IHS officials say they are using a temporary surge in funding to provide emergency services at Rosebud Hospital. That money helped Rosebud’s Emergency Room enact certain reforms, which led to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services giving the green light to re-open.
Mary Smith is the head of IHS, in Washington, DC.
“We did a lot of work to get there. We have a new management team in place," Smith says. "We did physical construction and we worked on IT issues and the policies. And we were given a clean bill of health from CMS this week to re-open.”
Smith says she’s happy Rosebud is reopening, but not satisfied…
“It was very important to me and all of us at IHS to resume emergency services for the Rosebud community as soon as possible," Smith says. "But, this is not the end of our work at the Rosebud hospital. We remain committed to making systemic and sustainable change at the hospital and we will continue to do so.”
The IHS Great Plains Area serves roughly 130,000 patients in Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
Smith says IHS is issuing a contract for telemedicine services for the entire Great Plains region. Telemedicine is the diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunications technology. She hopes this will make improvements at all rural IHS hospitals.