Tribal Government & News
Health and Human Services admiral visits Great Circle Recovery
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals editor
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Rachel L. Levine visited the Tribe’s Great Circle Recovery medication assisted treatment clinic in Portland on Thursday, Jan. 18, as part of her efforts to connect with Indian County and learn more about the work Tribes are doing to combat substance use disorder.
Originally, Levine was planning to visit the Grand Ronde campus as well as the Portland clinic, but a recent winter storm that blanketed the region curtailed the visit.
“It was a great honor to have Adm. Levine visit Great Circle Recovery in Portland, to discuss the many great programs and services the Tribe has created to improve and support health and wellness,” Health Services Executive Director Kelly Rowe said.
Levine met with the Tribe specifically to learn about its health and wellness programs that address the opioid epidemic, social determinants of health, gender affirming care and other public health diseases that are affecting American Indians/Alaska Natives at rates higher than other populations.
“We toured the Great Circle Recovery building and discussed how our program there and in Salem is different than other opioid treatment programs, and also shared information about our new Public Health/Vaccination Clinic, Shelter Villages, Community Transitions Program, Grand Ronde Health & Wellness Center, Adult Foster Care, and tush lamatsin (Good Medicine) programming,” Rowe said.
Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy was in attendance for the visit, braving the wintry conditions to drive from her home in Dallas to Portland. There, she was joined by Great Circle Recovery Operations Director Jennifer Worth and Rowe.
“I was very pleased with the visit,” Kennedy said. “We talked about what was happening and the need for services. … That was the nature of the visit. She (Levine) hasn’t been out to Indian Country a lot and wanted to acquaint herself with our services. I was very pleased we were recommended as a site to be toured and it was a great to share that the Tribe is working very hard to provide a full complement of services.”
Kennedy, who served as the first Tribal Health Director, said she is proud that the Tribe has been expanding its substance use disorder treatment services in recent years from traditional 12-step programs to include detox, residential treatment, outpatient treatment and prevention.
“We have all of those stages and will be opening the detox center later in 2024,” she said. “I was glad the admiral was there and Kelly did a wonderful job showing her the facilities.”
Levine was nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2021.