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Researchers Work to Expand Palliative Care Among Native Americans

Posted on Monday, December 2, 2019 1:10 PM

The Native American population has one of the lowest rates of utilization of palliative care in the United States.  In 2017 they comprised only 0.4% of hospice patients, whereas Caucasians made up 84% and African Americans 8%. 

A team of researchers are working to improve access to palliative care to tribal communities in the United States.  This new initiative will focus on the Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota.  The research team consists of representatives from the South Dakota State University College of Nursing, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, the Indian Health Service Great Plains Region and the Rural Health and Palliative Care programs at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Here in South Dakota, if you look at where the actual palliative care programs are relative to the location of the reservations, you’re looking at well over 60 to 100 miles or more for access,” said Mary Isaacson, associate professor of graduate nursing at South Dakota State University, a co-investigator on the project. “Infrastructure issues are also very challenging for our tribal communities. The Indian Health Service is always severely underfunded.  They barely have enough money to do preventative care which they don’t, let alone try to provide specialty palliative care services.”

Click here for the full article.

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