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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Indian Health Board has awarded $180,000 in grant funding to help tribes beef up their telehealth capacity and address needs during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The NIHB, an advocacy group that works to advance and build capacity for the health systems of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, gave $10,000 grants to 18 organizations across the country. The funding can go toward acquiring materials and equipment, facilities and infrastructure, outreach and education, training and technical assistance and evaluation and assessment, according to a statement.  

NIHB CEO Stacy Bohlen said the mini grants will help “combat the spread and impact of COVID-19” throughout Indian Country. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way healthcare services are delivered for our Indian Health Service and Tribal delivery systems,” Bohlen said in a statement. “But as mainstream health facilities have more readily transitioned to virtual and telehealth-based care delivery, our Indian health systems lag behind in this transition.”

Tribes receiving the grants were: 

  • Colusa Indian Community Council in Colusa, Calif.
  • Fort Independence Community of Paiutes of the Fort Independence Indian Reservation in Independence, Calif.
  • Kickapoo Tribal Health Center in McLoud, Okla.
  • Maniilaq Association of Kotzebue, Alaska
  • Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians in Bradley, Mich.
  • Modoc Nation in Miami, Okla.
  • Oneida Nation of Oneida, Wis.
  • Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Tucson, Ariz.
  • Pawnee Nation in Pawnee, Okla.
  • Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Kingston, Wash.
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe in San Carlos, Ariz.
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo in Kewa Pueblo, N.M.
  • Sierra Tribal Consortium Inc. of Fresno, Calif.
  • Squaxin Island Tribe in Shelton, Wash.
  • The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut in Uncasville, Conn. 
  • Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation in Tuba City, Ariz. 
  • Yakutat Tribal Health Board in Yakutat, Alaska

The funding originated with the Nicholas Kristof C-19 Impact Initiative, which the New York Times columnist started to seek donations for five organizations working to address COVID-19, one of which was the Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health. The center awarded its funding to three groups: the NIHB, the National Congress of American Indians and the National Council of Urban Indian Health.

NIHB opted to use its funding to offer direct grants to Native organizations “to enhance, alter or develop their telehealth capacities,” according to a statement. 

“Tribes know best how to take care of and protect their people and communities,” Bohlen said.
“Tribes are using telehealth to address health conditions that were previously addressed only in face-to-face settings, like addressing substance use disorder and mental health issues, which were long standing concerns even before the current COVID-19 crisis.”

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