Porcupine Clinic Celebrates New Partnership
Porcupine Clinic, Porcupine District, and surrounding communities welcomed a new partnership with Gundersen Lutheran Health System of La Crosse, Wisconsin on Wednesday, September 23, holding a dedication at the clinic followed by the First Annual Porcupine Community Healthy Futures Celebration and dinner at Porcupine School gym. Honored guests included Gundersen Lutheran Health System Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jeff Thompson, as well as Liz Arnold, MPH, Roseann Netzer, APNP, and Dr. Robert Witte, all of GLHS, and Jesse Ewing representing Senator John Thune. Invited guests from the OST Administration, Indian Health Service, Sanford Health, Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairman's Health Board, South Dakota National Guard, South Dakota State Coordinator of Indian Affairs, and community representatives were in attendance.
Named among the top one hundred in the nation eleven times in the last eleven years, Gundersen Lutheran (www.gundluth. org), a physician-led, not-for profit healthcare system located throughout western Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, and southeastern Minnesota, is a "comprehensive healthcare network including one of the nation's largest multi-specialty group medical practices, regional community clinics, hospital, home care, behavioral health services, vision centers, pharmacies, and air and ground ambulances."
Porcupine Clinic Acting Director Floyd White Eyes was pleased with the upcoming availability of quality health care and enhanced clinic hours that will reach about 8,500 patients from Porcupine, Manderson, Wakpamni, Wounded Knee, Sharps Corner, Rockyford, and Batesland. "Gundersen Lutheran will provide Porcupine Clinic with medical staff, doctors, PAs, and nurses," said White Eyes. "They are coming in the third week of October for a solid week to hold clinic here and after that they will put up a schedule." Dr. Thompson spoke of the infinite opportunities that could evolve from the collaboration. "We are pretty excited and we have a lot of staff who are very interested in working with another culture," said Dr. Thompson. "With just some coordinated effort between us, we ought to be able to do some really good things and we think we can learn from the community. We have dozens of people who have said they are interested and willing to come, so we will start out once a month and hope to expand that out as we go along."
Gundersen Lutheran staff heard from Dr. Arthur Zimiga on the state of affairs for Native American rural health care and the restructuring of Porcupine Clinic's Health Board or PCHB, whose mission is "Through an inventive model supported by volunteers, partnerships, and philanthropy, Porcupine Community Health Care Clinic rural health care will be the leader that defines excellence in delivering comprehensive, patient-centered health care at little cost to low-income, uninsured individuals and families in need of medical care." Long time PCHB Board member Edgar Bear Runner was elated about the new venture.
"We are ready to acknowledge a new partner, Gundersen Lutheran, here in Porcupine, a partner in the field of healthcare," said Bear Runner. We have hooked up with a provider that has all the tools to administer a health program. They brought their tools, their knowledge, and themselves, to work in this community to make a difference here. To make sure our community members will no longer be without medication and treatment."
WWII Veteran Isaac White Face and his wife Zona, married sixty-five years, sat together on the bleachers inside Porcupine School, quietly waiting, a silent yet powerful reminder of what is at stake in this part of Indian country.