2010-06-30 / Front Page

OST Health Administration advocates and invests in Partnerships

Sweetgrass Project one of six current programs- Provides Suicide Prevention on the Pine Ridge reservation
PINE RIDGE - The OST Health Administration is responsible for over sight of the 638 IHS Contract programs or otherwise called the Master Health Contract. This contract consists of six programs: Anpetu Luta O’Tipi, CHR program, OST Health Education, OST Otitis Media, OST Ambulance, and OST Solid Waste.

Eileen Janis Eileen Janis Lisa Schrader-Dillon, is the MSW-Health Administrator, heads the OST Health Administration Staff and is adamant about their strategic vision: act as catalysts to advocate and create partnerships with Indian Health Service and other organizations that wish to implement health care services on the Pine Ridge reservation. And also to work with the OST HHS Committee to exercise sovereignty and assess new 638 contracts for the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

One of their current programs is The Sweetgrass Project, “Wacagna Ta Woecun”, which is the OST Suicide Prevention Initiative that targets all nine communities on the Pine Ridge reservation. Key personnel include Carole Crazy Thunder- O’Rourke; Richard Iron Cloud, Connie Ten Fingers, Eileen Janis, Billy Jo Greenwald, Casey Means and evaluators John Haas & Mitchell Stone.

Casey Means Casey Means Eileen Janis and Casey Means share suicide Prevention/Intervention Services with communities through special programs geared to reach all ages of youth as well as adults.

“Kids are the key to help each other,” says Eileen, “and parents need training. The entire community needs to organize and create groups that our youth know about and can trust and go to when they need help.”

“We work with the Counselors at all the schools to begin that process and have phone numbers available that the kids and the community know are available to them. Every site is different in our Districts and each has their own strengths. The Elders are essential to the success of these groups because of their guidance, their calmness, and their ability to pass on the coping skills these kids need.”

Lisa Schrader-Dillon Lisa Schrader-Dillon Janis believes one of the biggest problems kids face today is the lack of spirituality in their lives. “It’s not a religion, it’s a way of life filled with lessons on coping and other much needed skills.”

The Sweetgrass Project is balanced with both Suicide Prevention and Intervention Services. They reach the community through events promoting these services. Janis, who is certified to do this, speaks to groups explaining these services and what is available on the reservation. She has been filmed by KOLC TV giving a presentation at the OLC Learning Center and this has been broadcast regularly on their Cable Channel 5.

Casey Means, following special training, is making plans to include fathers and others in special events he hopes to hold throughout the nine Districts, culminating in a final overall event. He’s excited about his ideas, and like Janis, is adamant that the Sweetgrass Project has increased awareness for suicide prevention and intervention and is a comprehensive and sustainable program that addresses four primary goals.

The goals are: 1. Increase community awareness, support, and coordination for Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention. 2. Strengthen capacity and resources for providing screening, early identification, referral, and follow-up of at-risk youth. 3. Reduce the number of OST youth, ages 14-24, who attempt or complete suicide. 4. Contribute to local, regional, and national knowledge and effective strategies for Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention.

The National Suicide Hotline phone number is: 1-800-273-8255

Sweetgrass phone numbers are:
Richard Iron Cloud:
Carole Crazy Thunder-Orourke:
Eileen Janis:

The Sweetgrass Project is located in the Old Hospital on the second floor. The office phone number is 867-1704. Their address is:

P.O. Box 5011, Pine Ridge, SD 57770

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