Health & Education
Tribal doctor honored for Hepatitis C elimination efforts
By Danielle Frost
A local medical professional’s efforts at Hepatitis C prevention have been recognized on a national level.
Randy Blome, a Grand Ronde Health & Wellness Center doctor, was honored by the National Indian Health Board at the annual Heroes in Health Awards gala held on Wednesday, Sept. 19, in Oklahoma City.
The award recognizes individuals or organizations whose work has affected change or health care on the local or Tribal level.
Blome was notified last month that he would be honored for the award. When contacted, he was quick to recognize his coworkers.
“We are making a big impact and I am extremely proud of that,” Blome said. “I am proud of how many people here at the clinic have worked so hard and that together we are doing such wonderful work.”
Health Services Executive Director Kelly Rowe said Blome is helping to change the health of the Tribe.
“I’m very thankful for Dr. Blome’s enthusiasm and commitment to eliminating Hep C from our patient population,” she said. “The program he has championed has already impacted several Tribal members, who have been able to access the cure for Hep C. Dr. Blome is truly a hero in health care and changing the health of the Tribe.”
He created a Hepatitis C Elimination Program at the clinic and organized a promotional event that was held on May 18. Blome also recorded a podcast with Smoke Signals to promote the event.
Blome was the only doctor working for an Oregon Tribe who was honored with an award at the event, joining others from across the country.
He said since the Tribe’s Hepatitis C program is going strong and that people are being cured, focus is needed on helping those with addiction issues.
“Most all of the new cases of Hep C are from intravenous drug use,” Blome said. “Our (drug and alcohol) counselors do a wonderful job, but we would like to see Suboxone become an option here for those struggling with addiction.”
Suboxone is a prescription medicine that contains buprenorphine and naloxone, used to treat adults who are opioid dependent.
Blome also has been working at the state level to increase awareness of Hepatitis C and to help change state policy to make the new medications more widely available.