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Healthcare Priorities to be Determined by Patients in Rapid City

RAPID CITY –For decades the mission, policies, and programs implemented in Indian Health Service hospitals have been determined by bureaucrats in faraway places. The new healthcare model rolling out at the Oyate Health Center in Rapid City turns that approach on its head.

The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board and the Oyate Health Center are currently conducting a community needs assessment that will, for the first time in history, accurately determine the healthcare needs and wants of the Rapid City Native American community.

In late July, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board assumed managerial responsibility for the Rapid City Service Unit on behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The Rapid City Service Unit had previously been managed by the Indian Health Service, however, after multiple standards of care violations at the Sioux San hospital (and subsequent reduction is services including the closure of the emergency room), the two tribes exercised their sovereign right to run the facility on their own through the 638-contracting process.

The decision made by the two tribes opened the door for the implementation of a new approach to healthcare that focuses on the needs of its users. The Nuka model is based upon the belief “that the relationship between the primary care team and the patient is the single most important tool in managing chronic disease, controlling health care costs, and improving the overall wellness of a population. Recognizing that individuals are ultimately in control of their own lifestyle choices and health care decisions, Nuka focuses on understanding each customer-owner’s unique story, values, and influencers in an effort to engage them in their care and support long-term behavior change,” says the Southcentral Foundation on its website. 

Recognized as one of the world’s leading examples of healthcare redesign and a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award, SCF offers health care organizations value-based solutions for data and information management, integrated care, behavioral health, workforce development, improvement, innovation, and more.

With the help of the Southcentral Foundation, the GPTCHB developed a comprehensive 58-question survey that will help the Rapid City Native American Community not only gather information about its healthcare needs, but also analyze the results. This scientifically valid study will then be used as a guide for administrators as they work to expand services at the Oyate Health Center.

The GPTCHB believes that the individuals utilizing services at the Oyate Health Center are the best resource available to determine which illnesses need to be prioritized, and which programs need to be developed to best serve them.

The Community Needs Assessment is available online and at the Oyate Health Center.