Oct 23, 2017

This week’s CHEER Champions of the Week are LT Amber Means, RN and LCDR Sandi Olson, RN, MSN. They are both Case Managers at Indian Health Service’s (IHS) Northern Cheyenne Service Unit (NCSU) on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana. They are doing an amazing job coordinating the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Tribe” project among perinatal patients on Northern Cheyenne! CHEER is the Billings Area contractor on this project, which is funded by an Inter-Agency Agreement between the Office on Women’s Health and IHS. The project aims to improve prenatal care and drug use prevention and treatment within the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribes and the facilities that serve them.

“This work is extremely important for the Northern Cheyenne community,” Amber says, “because without healthy mothers, we cannot have a healthy tribe.”

So far, Amber and Sandi have focused on getting a clear picture of the prenatal population at NCSU and the NCSU system, to see how the prenatal population is managed and where improvements could be made. They have also looked at outside systems that interact with NCSU to identify “gaps and opportunities” for working with high-risk prenatal patients. As a result, they have initiated many changes at NCSU, including developing a clear and concise way of documenting prenatal records and improving substance abuse screening. Sandi says one of their ultimate goals is to “form a collaborative group of key stakeholders that can meet once per week to identify high-risk prenatal patients and staff that person [in order to] avoid having an infant born into neonatal abstinence syndrome.”

In addition to the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Tribe” project, Amber and Sandi are responsible for coordinating services for patients who have been referred out to other health care providers. This includes coordination of care for complex patients who are coming back into the community after a trauma or significant illness, and all hospital and ER discharges. They also follow all patients who have been referred out to specialists through the IHS referral system. Their goal is to provide continuity of care between health care facilities and improve health outcomes of the Native population they serve. They share a caseload of approximately 400 patients per month.

Amber is an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe and a Northern Cheyenne descendent. She shares, “I was born and raised on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and many of the people here are family and friends. I am and have always been very motivated to assist the people of my community regarding their health, and have been able to do that through various opportunities as a registered nurse.”

Like Amber, Sandi brings sense of purpose to the work she does. She shares, “My personal motivation is to assist with creating a system where our population has better health outcomes for our next generation.”

Congratulations, Amber and Sandi, and thank you for all you do!