Rosebud ER Remains Closed
Six people, including Mark DuBray, lost their life in route to the next nearest hospital
For years now the health care service at the Rosebud Sioux Tribe hospital has been in a state of crisis, but a recent announcement is giving the hospital some new hope.
Indian health Services has hired Arizona-based contractor AB Staffing Solutions to staff and manage the ER.
The ER closed in December because of poor medical services, and it’s causing life-threatening problems for patients on the reservation.
Those in critical condition have to travel up to 60 miles to the next nearest hospital.
“Our people are dying and we can’t do anything about it,” says Parmlee resident Tammi Young.
It started back in November, when a Center for Medicaid and Medicare investigation uncovered multiple ER failures.
Failures that tribal members say have been going a while.
“I’ve been aware of it for years, our health board has been aware of it for years, tribal council has been aware, but we couldn’t get anyone to listen to us,” says Rosebud Sioux Tribe President William Kindle.
The Center for Medicare discovered 100 pages worth of health care deficiencies practiced in the Rosebud Emergency Room, putting health at risk for the 29,000 people who live on the reservation, and more specifically, the 12,000 people the health director says actively uses the services.
“Our health care is the worst it’s ever been right now,” says Rosebud Health Board Chairman William Bear Shield.”
The documents cite inadequate nursing care, and the facility itself, lacked proper sterilization methods.
“The care continues to be substandard, the care is unsafe today,” adds Rosebud Health Director Evelyn Espinoza.
So now, all emergency signs are covered up and a stop sign is blocking anyone from entering the ER.
“If you’re not providing the quality health care or not able to take care of those emergency situations, they have to go elsewhere,” says Bear Shield.
The elsewhere is referring to Valentine, Nebraska and Winner, South Dakota; but some patients are losing their lives along the 40 to 60 mile transport.
“We’re upwards of 6 [people],” adds Bear Shield.
One of those 6 was Mark DuBray.
“I got a call on February 20th on a Saturday afternoon that Mark had collapsed,” says Mark’s cousin, Tammi Young.
Young says when she arrived at her cousin’s house, medical personnel were working to revive him.
“He was still alive, and then the ambulance service loaded him up and they left.”
But Mark never made it to the Winner hospital, dying from a heart attack.
“He passed away just on the other side of Okreek,” says Young. “We live in Parmlee, which is 8 to 10 miles from Rosebud. If they would have been in route to Rosebud, he would still be here. I believe that.”
Young says she never imagined her 50-year-old cousin passing the way he did.
“When he left I touched his arm and I said get up Mark Henry and he was still warm,” says Young. “I thought he would come back.”
So what’s being done to improve the health care provided to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe?
“The SIA agreement was signed May 1,” says Bear Shield.
Indian Health Services reached a last-ditch agreement with CMS that will require a monitor, appointed through CMS, to observe the ER for a year making sure it is in compliance with federal requirements.
“They will have to give reports, monthly, even quarterly, to see how everything is going,” adds Bear Shield.
A newly announced private contractor, AB Staffing Solutions, will also temporarily staff and manage the ER for at least one year.
But if the hospital doesn’t fix all of the deficiencies, they could lose key federal funding; which the health board chairman says last year alone, amounted up to $15 million.
“You sit on pins and needles and you lose sleep basically trying to think of ways to remedy the situation, or are we doing enough,” questions Bear Shield.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it happens for us,” adds Kindle. “We need to get that place back up. People suffer, are suffering and on this day in America, that shouldn’t be happening.”
The ER closure has also put stress on surrounding hospitals.
A Valentine Hospital rep says they’ve seen their ER volume increase 67 percent just in the first 60 days.
To help with the extra patients, they’re looking into hiring more staff.
The Rosebud hospital ER won’t be the only one ran by a private contractor.
AB Staffing Solutions will also manage the ER in Pine Ridge and Winnebago, Nebraska.