Journey to Wellness in Indian Country

Nathan Ratner

Nathan Ratner has always been a bit of an overachiever.

Not only did the med student help start Journey To Wellness in Indian Country here at KUMD, now he's one of 16 medical students (and the only one from North America!) invited to travel to Helsinki next month.

The 2017 Elsevier Hacks Hackathon will bring together programmers, coders and designers along with medical students to see if they can find solutions to some challenges in medical education.

Dick Thompson/Jay Smiley/Flickr

Navajo/Lakota psychiatrist Dr Melvina Bissonette on finding home thousands of miles from where she grew up, the need for native physicians and particularly psychiatrists in Indian Country, and the importance of holding your own with winter war stories.

Neil Parekh/SEIU Healthcare 775NW/Flickr

There's concern in Indian country, too, about what will replace the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. 

Dr. Mary Owen of UMD's Center for American Indian and Minority Health says the Indian Health Service is already critically underfunded ... and for people who are already experiencing a high rate of poverty, private insurance may be priced out of reach for them.

http://www.duluthmn.gov

The process to rename Lake Place Park Gichi 'ode Akiing (gih chee o DAY  ah king) or "Grand Heart Place" and  in so doing, recognize the Native community's long presence in what's now called Duluth continues.

Babette Sandman is the chair of the Duluth Indigenous Commission and she has big dreams for the project, including a naming ceremony that would bring all nations together, and opportunities for teachings and new beginnings.

Sam Moose is really excited about the re-opening of the new Four Winds addiction treatment center.

For one thing, the program's focus on traditional Native American teachings and traditions is the only one of it's kind in Minnesota.

For another, the band took over operation and management of the center March 1st after the state wanted to close it due to budget issues.

And Moose, the band's Commissioner of Health, isn't the only tribal member excited about the program.  The entire community is lining up to help, apply for jobs and volunteer.

Tribal members of the Lower Sioux Indian Community were frustrated with the lack of cultural awareness when it came to their health care and by a "fragmented" system that made it hard to track native health concerns.

But they had hope that they could create better access to care by opening their own clinic ... and also create employment opportunities beyond casino jobs.

American Indian Cancer Foundation

We speak with Kris Rhodes, the Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian Cancer Foundation, fighting to reverse the high cancer rates among Native Americans.

Courtesy Vince Rock

Remember hearing about doctors making house calls?

People living on the Leech Lake reservation don't always have transportation to get to one of the seven community clinics.  And it's a big place.  Composed of 972 square miles (and a fourth of that is water) and eleven communities spread out over parts of four counties, the tribe found a solution:  don't just bring a doctor to people living in remote areas, bring the entire clinic.

It's not easy to admit you're using drugs.

Especially if you're pregnant.

Nor is getting off drugs, especially if you're pregnant, when "cold turkey" withdrawal can put the unborn baby through withdrawal, too.

That's where the M.O.M.s program on the White Earth Nation comes in: a program to help expecting mothers get off drugs, and support them medically, emotionally, psychologically and culturally.

If you're a Native American or Alaska Native mom, your baby is twice as likely to die before it's first birthday than if you're white.

And your baby is three times as likely to die before it's first birthday.

AICHO

We've learned in recent years that a variety of social and personal ills can be addressed by a couple of strategies: first, meet people where they are (and not where we think they should be) and second, get them into stable housing. 

AICHO (American Indian Community Housing Organization) has been handling the first two since 1993.  But it's only recently that they've added a third ingredient to the mix and it's having a profound impact: art.

Indian Health Service

In and out of Indian country, the expectation is that patients adapt to the way their doctors do things if they want treatment. 

Dr. Ron Shaw is the president of the Association of American Indian Physicians.  He says the new  "cultural humility" paradigm involves respect for and understanding of other cultures - and it also leads to better outcomes for patients.

The Center of American Indian and Minority Health

Growing up, Dr. Alan Johns never even dreamed of going to med school.

He not only went, he was one of the first two Native students to graduate from UMD's medical program in 1972.  And how he shares his passion for educating and recruiting other Native students who, like him, never imagined a future in medicine.

Tony Webster/Flickr

Tribal sovereignty is more than just who is allowed to put a pipeline where.

Included in the right to self-determination and self-governance is the right to protect one's land and environment - and waterways.

But epidemiologist Michael Marmot says the less status you have, the poorer your health will be. It's not a question even of how much money you have, it's the psychological experience of inequality that makes the difference.

SAMHSA/Ad Council

Native American teens experience the highest rate of suicide of any population in the United states, more than double that of the general population, according to the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. And as is so often the case, alcohol factors into almost 70% of those deaths. 

The Mental Health Week on KUMD was made possible in part by the Human Development Center, Miller-Dwan Foundation and the St. Luke’s Foundation.

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