PHS earns awards

Pokagon Health Services earned the 2019 Bemidji Area Director’s Award and a Michigan Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace GOLD Award.

The Directors Award is given to an IHS facility that provides high-level care and continuously improves the quality of health care to the Pokagon community. The Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace GOLD Award is for workplaces that adopt breastfeeding-supportive policies and provide time and space for breastfeeding employees in compliance with the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.

“We are extremely proud of our health care team and facility,” said Matthew Wesaw, Tribal Council Chair. “Our integrated, patient-centered, medical home model of care is unparalleled in this Indian Health Services region.” 

Pokagon Health Services has created a system where an integrated care team meets every other week to discuss solutions in PHS’s medical home. Between the family practice clinic, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health, community outreach and the wellness center, a patient can know that specialists are coordinating care and providing a holistic plan for a patient’s health. If a patient at the clinic needs behavioral health or nutrition counseling, the specialists are there under one roof
to meet with the patient. 

One criterion of the award involves innovative efforts to solve problems and address issues. Because the patient population of Native Americans is especially vulnerable to diabetes and obesity, the Pokagon Health Services team implemented a supervised weight loss clinic. The clinic offers a variety of medical providers—from doctors to nutritionists to behavioral health counselors to wellness coaches—who meet regularly with the patient to create a plan and support the patient’s progress. So instead of simply treating the joint pain or high blood pressure associated with obesity, the weight loss clinic helps modify behavior and solve
the root cause of those conditions. 

“We keep moving forward and improving care for our patients,” said Matt Clay, PHS director. “Because we have such an excellent team, we see patients who drive from hundreds of miles away past other tribal health clinics.”

The PHS team received the Michigan Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace GOLD Award October 18 in Dowagiac. The team will accept the Area Director’s Award on October 24 in Bemidji, Minnesota.