Official opposes delay of Indian Health Service director

December 27, 2017 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A tribal official says congressional delay in approving a new Indian Health Service director could create more problems at South Dakota hospitals that are already in dangerous condition.

It’s been two months since President Donald Trump nominated Quapaw tribal member Robert Weaver to the job. But the agency hasn’t had a permanent leader for nearly two years.

Oliver J. Semans Sr., a member of the Rosebud Tribal Health Board, told the Argus Leader that confirmation should be prioritized, given the persistent problems at Indian Health Service facilities in South Dakota.


“We’re talking life and death, and this should be a priority,” said Semans.

IHS officials have tried to resolve problems at federal hospitals across the state. But tribal members have disagreed with many of the agency’s decisions, according to Semans.

He said the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other Great Plains tribes’ health officials disapproved of the agency’s move to turn the Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City into a medical clinic. IHS closed the hospital’s emergency and inpatient departments earlier this year.

The agency has said it will direct emergency cases to Rapid City Regional Hospital. But tribal leaders had requested to use the Sioux San facility for that purpose, according to Semans. He said the decision runs opposite to tribal leaders’ demands.

“We’re asking IHS to stop, let the nomination process of Rob Weaver happen and then have Mr. Weaver come talk to the tribes in the Great Plains about how to move forward,” Semans said.


Information from: Argus Leader,