Health & Education
General Council briefed on Health & Wellness
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals editor
Health Services Executive Director Kelly Rowe briefed General Council on initiatives her department is pursuing during the Sunday, Jan 7, hybrid meeting held in Tribal Council chambers and on Zoom.
“It is a pleasure and an honor to be here and to talk about health and wellness, what we have done in 2023 and what is to come in 2024,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s been eight years since I started here. Time really flies, it certainly does when you’re having fun, and it’s great that we’re able to make a difference to the membership and bring services and programs that are needed.”
Rowe said that Health & Wellness continues to grow, and has recently added a nurse practitioner, psychiatric nurse practitioner and a dentist, with a second one coming in April.
The department’s tush lamatsin (good medicine) events have continued to increase in popularity, with the Fall Festival attracting more than 350 people.
Additionally, the new public health and vaccination clinic, located next to the Heath & Wellness Center, will be opening in February to provide additional services to the membership including vaccination, a denturist lab, diabetic care, pediatrics, naturopathic care, an indoor demonstration kitchen and presentation area, and outdoor patio with a kitchen and fish pit.
“This is a labor of love and gives us the ability to expand our services,” Rowe said.
During her presentation, Rowe shared several other accomplishments of 2023 and goals for 2024, some of which she and the staff have been working toward for years. One of these is to have a financially independent department.
“When I came to Health and Wellness in 2015, one of the things I really wanted to do was to become self-sufficient, so that we would be able to work on health and wellness and not be reliant on casino dollars or other dollars out there so we would be able to function no matter what,” Rowe said. “I’m happy to say in 2024, we are able meet that goal and not rely on any gaming revenue that can be used elsewhere by the Tribe. That’s something that is powerful and that has bene a goal for me and a goal for Health and Wellness that we’ve accomplished. I can’t say enough about it and how happy I am and proud to be a part of that.”
Other highlights of the presentation include:
Adult Foster Care lodges: The clinic is planning to open the vacant Black Bear Lodge in 2024, which will provide adult foster care services to six Tribal members. Currently, there is a waiting list so opening up additional rooms will help to alleviate that. Additionally, the clinic will build programming for hospice and palliative care for residents there as well as the broader Tribal membership who need those services.
Great Circle Recovery clinics: The Tribe’s medication-assisted treatment facilities in Salem and Portland have served 436 people. The Salem clinic has added mental health services, and a peer recovery center with a food pantry, clothing closet, career training and housing search area. There is also a shower and laundry trailer for unhoused clients who are utilizing services at the clinic.
A new mobile unit, funded by a state grant, will begin serving clients in a few weeks and is designed to be more efficient and include additional services to meet clients where they are.
Great Circle Portland opened in February and is continuing to grow and expand its services to the community there, which has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic, Rowe said.
Shelter villages: There are two emergency shelter villages which opened in February 2023, one on the Tribal campus and one on Grand Ronde Road. There are 25 housing units with 45 people admitted into the program. Six have received permanent housing transfers, five have received transitional housing transfers, 11 have sought behavioral health treatment and five have found employment. There have been 309 meals served.
Community transitions program: There are five different homes on four properties in Grand Ronde, Willamina and Salem. These provide for a variety of housing needs with both communal and private housing, and services which range from building daily living skills and offering mental health supports, to cultural opportunities and preparation for independent living. “It’s a huge step in our ability to support people in their housing journey and make sure they are capable and ready for independent living,” Rowe said.
Residential treatment and recovery services: Opening in summer 2024, these will provide addiction treatment services, intensive outpatient services, coordinated services with Great Circle Recovery and Grand Ronde Health & Wellness Center, and broaden the Tribe’s substance use disorder care options. “This is something that is a gap for us, where we struggle to find these beds when people need services,” Rowe said. “This gives us the ability to have control and offer services in a way that are specific to us. … Being able to bring this inside will give us the opportunity to really make a difference. This is much needed and a fast way to get people in and do treatment.”
After the 32-minute presentation, Rowe took 16 questions and comments from the audience.
“Thank you Kelly for that wonderful and thorough report,” Tribal Council Secretary Michael Cherry said. “It’s really good to hear and I’m excited to see all of the wonderful things that are coming up for our community.”
In other action, Angey Rideout won the $25 gas card; Ramona Quenelle, Halona Butler, Rosemary Jameson, Deb Anderson and Lyliana Rideout won the $50 door prizes; and Marie Quenelle, David Leno and Veronica Gaston won the $100 door prizes.
The next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 4 at the Monarch Hotel & Conference Center, 12566 SE 93rd Ave., in person and via Zoom. The program report will be the Community Development Plan. A community input meeting will follow.
To watch the entire meeting, visit the Tribal government’s website at www.grandronde.org and click on the Videos tab.