ST. IGNATIUS — Clayton Matt, acting director of the Tribal Health Department, informed the Salish Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee Elders Council and others at last week’s February meeting about an assessment review of THD that would gauge its present state and map its future.
The Tribal Council has empowered a committee with the assessment review, and they report to Matt as well as Tribal Council about its findings.
Under consideration is the establishment of a THD Board of Directors with bylaws and policies that guide the management of THD. Once the THD Board is in place, the search for a THD director would begin. Matt said that could be completed by this spring or summer. Until then Matt will continue as acting director of THD.
When all those pieces are in place then THD would potentially seek to go through the accreditation process. That is a huge step in the history of THD.
“The accreditation process involves assessment of every aspect of the Tribal Health Department,” Matt said. “An outside agency will do the review and make recommendations.”
Accreditation is regarded as one of the key benchmarks for measuring the quality of an organization. Preparing for accreditation gives a healthcare entity like THD an opportunity to identify its strengths and areas for improvement.
Receiving accreditation demonstrates a healthcare entity’s commitment to compliance with industry standards and best practices, containing costs, and practicing performance improvement. Accreditation indicates and ensures quality healthcare for patient.
Ronan District Councilwoman Carole Lankford said accreditation does not necessarily equate to THD becoming a corporate model of healthcare provision.
However, the current THD Committee assessment in considering what type of entity it will become. Presently it is a CSKT organizational department.
The THD Committee told the Tribal Council Thursday that it is researching various healthcare entities' operational umbrellas including corporations, limited liability corporations, self-governance entities such as Mission Valley Power, Salish Kootenai Housing Authority, a tribal department, something similar to Two Eagle River School with a board of directors, some other type of organization or a mix of the aforementioned. To this point the type of healthcare organizational structure is up in the air.
“There has been a lot of discussion on what type of entity Tribal Health would be,” said Vern Clairmont, Committee Member, adding that some of the organizational choices could be a detriment to federal assistance such as participation in the Veterans Affairs prescription drug program that provides low cost pharmaceuticals to THD and funding. “We are presently looking into how to figure out the effects organizational choices would have on those. We can’t afford to not have them. Third party billing is a big issue too. We must keep the federal umbrella.”
CSKT Legal Department attorney Lana Paige is assisting the committee in its mission to figure out what type of healthcare organizational entity best fits THD. It cannot be one that doesn’t serve eligible beneficiaries regardless of tribal affiliation as that would jeopardize or eliminate federal funding.
“The Tribal Council has to make a resolution on what type of entity designation it would be,” Paige said. “You have to decide what kind of entity you want.”
Clairmont said the committee will continue its mandate and provide more information for the Tribal Council to consider for making its decision about the future of the Tribal Health Department. That could be sometime in March.
Road to accreditation
This the process THD would have to undergo to become an accredited health care provider: