CSKT Tribal Health Dept. beneficiaries might soon be able to access naturopathic health care 

Char-Koosta News 

PABLO — Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Health Department beneficiaries might soon be able to choose an alternative-medical healthcare provider for their health needs. 

On March 14, Dr. Katie Carter, Naturopathic medical doctor, met with Tribal Council to give an in-depth overview of the treatments she has been using on patients and how it works with their bodies to heal in a natural way. 

“We work with the architecture of the body,” Carter said, adding that the treatments are a penny on the dollar compared to the Western medical approaches. The savings come by concentrating on healing the patient from the inside out.

Carter said her practice focuses on finding the root cause of pain or illness by examining a patient’s health history to piece together the puzzle of why he or she is not getting better. Where modern medicine focuses on suppressing symptoms her practice goes deeper to find out the ailment source and use the body’s own healing processes through a natural treatment plan that also include a personalized eating plan and exercise.

The Tribal Council supported the idea of THD patients being able to choose alternative natural healthcare as a replacement to Western medical care.

The initial services for THD patients to use alternative medicine services will be through a pain management program said acting THD Director, Joe Durglo.

The Tribal Health Department has contracted three service vendors used by a select group of patients who were paying out-of-pocket for alternative treatments for pain management. Once the financial internal processes are in place the patients’ alternative healthcare coverage will be set. The vendors include a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor and an acupuncture specialist. 

Currently THD is working on its internal referral process and soon as it’s completed patients will be covered for the alternative healthcare services, Durglo said.

The alternative healthcare service coverage will run for a period of time —undetermined at this point — to measure how effective the care is before it could be unlocked for additional service providers and patients, Durglo said. “Depending on those results we can look at opening up more broadly.”

The step in this experiment to open the alternative healthcare door to Tribal Health beneficiaries is not a new or current discussion. It started with Tribal Health community members 30 years ago and resurfaced with renewed interest two months ago, said Tribal Council Arlee District Rep. Myna DuMontier. 

Back then, there were a still a great number of people who preferred using chiropractors, natural remedies and even hot springs but the push to have it paid for as a healthcare choice was not supported by the Indian Health Service, DuMontier said.

DuMontier said she had a fortunate childhood with her Ya-ya, Louise Vanderburg who used her knowledge of plant medicines to alleviate many ailments. 

Now as a patient of Dr. Carter, DuMontier said she is finding her pain subsiding quicker as compared to the Western medical approach she had been using more than a year ago. 

“Western medicine frustrated me. I felt limited with it,” she said. DuMontier who has been paying out of pocket for Carter’s services said it is like “going back to her roots.”

“I have found a 90 percent change so far,” DuMontier said, adding that her plan also includes a chiropractor, hot springs use, diet and exercise. However she has found no easy path to staying off of gluten. 

DuMontier said she learned something new while under the care of Carter: how to eat according to her blood type. She said the change has made a huge difference in her overall health. 

DuMontier said she is pleased with the direction THD is headed. “It’s more beneficial to give tribal people an (healthcare) option to honor what they need.”

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