RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA –The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB), through the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center (GPTEC), has been awarded a $3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control to assist Great Plains tribal nations in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to develop and expand emergency preparedness capacities.
“This pandemic has exposed the limitations of the public health infrastructure in Indian Country. This funding will enable our organization to expand our response readiness and provide regional public health leadership by fostering collaborative efforts between tribes, states, and federal agencies for the purpose of improving tribal emergency preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery,” said Jerilyn Church, CEO of the GPTCHB.
The funding will be used to:
- Create a regional tribal Emergency Operations Center (EOC) with the ability to develop and implement culturally responsive public health emergency management plans and procedures in support of Great Plains Area tribal communities.
- Support Great Plains Area tribal-nations in developing or enhancing tribal level Emergency Command Centers or Incident Command infrastructure, policies, and plans.
By leveraging its extensive network of existing partners, GPTCHB through technical assistance, training, and other mechanisms will support complementary and comprehensive preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery activities at the regional, local, and tribal levels to blunt COVID-19’s impact on tribal communities and citizens, while generating emergency management systems and plans posed to alter the potential effects of future outbreaks.
“Nearly all tribal communities in the Great Plains are designated as health professional shortage areas. There is a great need for concerted and tailored efforts to head off this outbreak as soon as possible,” said PJ Beaudry, Director of GPTEC. “Tribes have been left out of opportunities to participate in the growth of public health systems, capacity, and infrastructure at the federal, state and local levels. This funding will be used to radically improve the ability of tribal nations to coordinate and respond to COVID-19 and other future emergencies,” added Beaudry.
As of April 14, in counties within, on, or near the boundaries of tribal lands in the states of Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, there have been 455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 identified, with 445 active and 10 proving fatal as of that date. Tribal citizens living in these areas suffer from higher rates of COVID-19 comorbidities including diabetes, heart disease, smoking, and cancer.
*The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB) is dedicated to serving the health and wellness needs of the tribal members it represents. Assisting with the needs of 18 tribes and tribal communities in the four-state region of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, GPTCHB addresses the health necessities of its members by assisting in accessing health-related programs and resources.
*The Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center mission is to provide leadership, technical assistance, support and advocacy for the 18 tribal nations and communities serviced by the Great Plains Area IHS in order to achieve our vision of eliminating the disparities in health that currently exist for tribal peoples within the four-state region of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
For all media inquiries please contact GPTCHB Communications Director Brandon Ecoffey at [email protected].