Federal Report Details Corruption at IHS

Cheryl Clark, October 1, 2010

Festering corruption and incompetence continue to plague the Indian Health Service's Aberdeen Area, which serves parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs were told this week.

Committee Chairman Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, (D-ND) who convened the Oversight Hearing on Aberdeen Area Review, said he launched the formal investigation into the Aberdeen area two months ago after "hearing about poor performance and mismanagement within the area" over the past five years.

The investigation identified:

  • Increasingly high numbers of Equal Employment Opportunity complaints and workforce grievances
  • Personnel transfers and administrative leaves commonly used as a remedy for problem employees, including one employee who was paid to stay at home for eight months during an investigation
  • Several facilities on the brink of losing accreditation or certification
  • Frequent diversion of healthcare services and substantial amounts of missing or stolen narcotics
  • Questionable management of Contract Health Services funds
  • Mismanagement of billing Medicare, Medicaid or private insurers
  • Instances of employees working while impaired, possibly under the influence of alcohol

"In one horrendous incident, a nurse was found to be assisting a C-section in such an impaired state that she couldn't even hold the patient's skin together for staples. This nurse kept her job," Dorgan said.

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