Indian Health Service

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare


While the state of Wyoming hasn't issued a stay-at-home order, tribal members on the Wind River Reservation face fines and even jail time for violating one there. The reservation is also one of the only places in the state where mass COVID-19 testing is being conducted. Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, which is operated by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is offering testing to any tribal member who wants it and quarantine housing to those who test positive.

Dr. Paul Ebbert, Chief Medical Officer of Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher about the clinic and the tribe's strategy for flattening the curve.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare/Lisa Yawakia

COVID-19 testing resources remain limited around Wyoming and the country. But one clinic that's operated by the Northern Arapaho Tribe has emerged as a leader in the state when it comes to testing.

Savannah Maher

With six cases of COVID-19 now confirmed on the Wind River Reservation, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes have enacted some of the strictest measures in Wyoming to slow the spread. The tribes have jointly directed their citizens to remain in their homes except for emergencies, stay far away from elders and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10.

But for many tribal households, those directives contradict one another.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare/Lisa Yawakia

With the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the Wind River Reservation, tribal members are being asked not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. There are currently 14 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Fremont County.

WIND RIVER FAMILY AND COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE/LISA YAWAKIA

With eight cases of COVID-19 now confirmed in Fremont County, the Wind River Reservation's federally funded healthcare facilities are bracing for impact. Meanwhile, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has announced that $40 million in federal funds will be distributed to help tribes across the country combat the coronavirus.

Savannah Maher

With eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fremont County, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes are preparing for the coronavirus to reach the Wind River Reservation.

Indian Health Service (IHS)

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe is looking at taking over management of a federally-operated health clinic in Fort Washakie.

Indian Health Service (IHS)

Members of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council are back from Washington D.C., where they met with Indian Health Service (IHS) officials about healthcare staffing on the Wind River Reservation.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

A bill that would protect tribal nations from the impacts of government shutdowns is up for a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday, September 25. The Indian Programs Advanced Appropriations Act would allow Congress to authorize funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education and Indian Health Service further in advance.

A study by the Government Accountability Office – or GAO - shows that it takes over one year for the Indian Health Service to process payments to contractors in 8-percent of claims.

The Indian Health Service provides limited medical services to tribal members and outsources other treatments through the contract health services program. The GAO’s Kathleen King says some payments are delayed because decisions about whether IHS will pay for a service are made on a case-by-case basis. 

There are about $2.9 billion worth of sanitation development projects in tribal communities across the US, and Wyoming has 33 projects that add up to just under $16.5 million dollars, according to the US Indian Health Service.

   Ronald Ferguson directs the IHS Division of Sanitation Facilities. He says Wyoming is in a better position than some other areas.   

In upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has also affirmed the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Many Native Americans receive healthcare through the Indian Health Service, or IHS, with more than 10,000 people in Wyoming eligible for services, and 2-million nationwide.