PBP Health Center Hosts Kansas/Tribal Consultation Meeting

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Left to right:  Jerry Briscoe, PBP Health Center Administrator, Kevin Meeks, Area Director, Oklahoma Area Indian Health Service, Russell Bradley, Kickapoo Vice Chairman, Arlan Whitebird, Kickapoo Chairman, Nina Merchant, Iowa Treasurer, Steve Ortiz, PBP Chairman, Dr. Barb Langar, Acting Medicaid Director, Kansas Health Policy Institute, Judy Baker, Regional Health and Human Services Director, Carrie O’Toole, PBP Tribal Council Member, and Jim Potter, PBP Secretary.


MAYETTA:  Over 40 representatives from Native American tribes and health leaders from the state of Kansas and Oklahoma came together for the Kansas State/Tribal Consultation meeting last Wednesday at the Prairie Band Potawatomi (PBP) Health Center.

The purpose of the meeting was to exchange information and to discuss Indian health issues and to learn about technical assistance and training needs.

The meeting opened with remarks from PBPN Tribal Chairman Steve Ortiz, Nancy Rios, Native American contact for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Judy Baker, the regional director of Health and Human Services (HHS). Russell Bradley, vice chairman for the Kickapoo Nation, gave the invocation which was followed by individual introductions of everyone in the room.

Next, Barb Langer, Ph.D., Acting Medicaid Director for the Kansas Health Policy Authority (KHPA) gave an overview of the state agency.

Following her presentation, representatives from the tribes and each of the health facilities gave an overview of their operations and discussed their concerns.

Chairman Ortiz spoke on behalf of the PBPN along with Jerry Briscoe, administrator for the PBP Health Center. Ortiz said that the PBP Health Center presently serves around 1,000 residents on the Prairie Band Common Land and 336 other Native Americans who are in the service area.  He said that he was proud of how the Prairie Band health system had grown through the years and that this could not have happened without a supportive General Council.  He stated the PBPN had approved $6 million to build a state-of-the-art health facility that is now debt free and that the tribe is also managing the facility on their own.  He said that it takes about $4.5 million each year to operate and that it has medical, dental, and pharmaceutical services available.  In regards to a technical need, Ortiz said that the health center would like to implement an electronic filing system in the future.

Kickapoo leaders voiced concerns about the need for water on their reservation and increasing funds for their health center while a representative from Haskell said that better communication was needed between the federal and state agencies and their group.  Other Indian health representatives spoke about the limitation of reimbursements for certain services and the need for pharmacy services in their facilities.

Besides those already mentioned, other representatives at the meeting were from the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Osage Nation, Hunter Health Center, White Cloud Health Station, Kanza Health Center, Oklahoma Area Indian Health Service, and the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board.

Earlier in the day, members from the PBPN and Kickapoo Tribal Councils and their health center directors listened to a presentation by Dr. DeeAnn DeRoin (Ioway) who is interested in developing a cancer prevention program for Native Americans. DeRoin is a community health consultant and has been active in the northeast Kansas medical community for many years.