Lower Sioux Health Care Center Promotes Whole Health and Wellness in Community
Monday, September 09, 2019
The Lower Sioux Indian Community has seen stellar improvements in tribal health in recent years with the addition of a health care center that offers a large scope of medical services. The Lower Sioux, part of the Mdewakanton Band of Dakota, is a federally-recognized tribe located in Redwood County. In seeking to maintain whole health, safety, and happiness for the community while also staying true to traditional values of the Dakota, the idea for the Lower Sioux Health Care Center was born. The center serves the tribe’s population of nearly 1,000 people.
A Simple Idea Becomes All-Inclusive Care
Darin Prescott, Clinic CEO, explains how the idea became a reality.
“Though it was discussed over the past 20 years by different tribal councils, the idea did not come to fruition until 2013 when a grant was finally written,” he says. “We decided to pursue a large health center, not just a medical clinic.”
What was originally discussed as a simple medical clinic became a thriving, one-stop comprehensive health center that served its first medical patient in 2016. The departments the health care center offers include Medical, Pharmacy, Optical, Dental, Behavioral, Community Health, Nutrition and Social Services. Out of 11 tribes in Minnesota, the Lower Sioux Indian Community is the 10th tribe able to offer extensive medical services.
Improvements in Cultural Competency and Tribal Health Take Place
“The Lower Sioux Health Care Center answers the vital need for improved cultural competency,” Prescott explains.
Through the health care center, more medical data concerning the most prominent health needs of the tribe and community is gained. With this new data, more accessible treatments are made available to improve the overall health and wellness of the area. The Community Health Department, also located in the building, is devoted to the public health side of things, focusing on the prevention of chronic disease and how to counter current prominent illnesses.
“Community Health Surveys are at an all time high of an 80 percent response rate from community members,” adds Stacy Hammer, Director of Community Health.
Because all of the healthcare providers are located in one building, real-time conversations concerning diabetes management and other significant medical problems take place more often, keeping these topics and the development of solutions to them a priority. There are more opportunities than ever before to talk to patients about their state of health and find ways to improve it. Trust in medical providers has grown, and patients are able to visit a provider quickly without waiting months for treatment.
In addition to the expansive services located inside the building, an indigenous garden has been put into place outside. Elders will be able to walk the paths and harvest the plants, and members of the community can be educated on some of the original plants used as medicine. One of the main goals of the health care center is to join the national effort and decrease opioid dependence by training the community in Mind Body Medicine. Learning the traditions of the Dakota is one step toward achieving this goal.
“Signs of a decrease in prescribed medication and individual tapering of doses has already been seen,” reports Prescott.
The health care center even sponsors four different walk/runs at the Powwow grounds every year to encourage community movement and hosts events promoting healthy foods.
More Local Jobs Become a Reality
Not only has the health care center been an important solution to the medical needs of the people, it also fills an employment void. 50 percent of the Lower Sioux Health Care Center employees are tribal members, from entry level up to professional.
“Now many of the tribe’s youth are able to go off to college, knowing they can return and find jobs in the healthcare field right here in the community,” adds Hammer proudly.
To learn more about The Lower Sioux Health Care Center and what they are doing for our community, visit http://lowersiouxhhs.org/. The health care center is located on the northeast corner of County Hwy 2 and 24, just east of Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel.