FORT YATES, N.D. -- U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., toured Fort Yates Hospital on the Standing Rock Reservation Monday to "check in" on North Dakota Indian Health Services facilities.
Heitkamp's tour of Fort Yates Hospital follows a U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in February which found service disruptions – including emergency room closures, inadequate staffing, unsafe and unsterile conditions and regulatory violations – at IHS hospitals in the Great Plains, particularly in South Dakota.
Great Plains Area IHS received citations from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding deficiencies at two hospitals in South Dakota, Rosebud and Pine Ridge, as well as a hospital in Winnebago, Neb.
Heitkamp also met with IHS Acting Director Mary Smith last month urging her to maintain quality health care at IHS facilities in North Dakota while the "agency invests attention and resources to fix severe shortcomings at health facilities in South Dakota," according to a press release.
"Touring Fort Yates Hospital today was an opportunity to check in on North Dakota IHS facilities and make sure the Standing Rock community is receiving the care it deserves," Heitkamp wrote in a press release. "As IHS works to fix unacceptable problems across the Great Plains, I'm fighting to guarantee that our North Dakota hospitals receive the attention and resources they need to deliver the quality care Native communities deserve."
The Great Plains Area facilities provide health services to 122,000 tribal members in North Dakota South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.