Shuttered South Dakota emergency room at center of Senate hearing

The Indian Health Service hospital in Rosebud, S.D., is set to enter its eighth week without an operating emergency room, causing an alarming health situation that the state's U.S. senators plan to call attention to at a Senate committee hearing in Washington this week, according to the Argus Leader.

With the ER at the hospital closed, patients have been diverted to the two nearest emergency departments, which are both located more than 40 miles away. Although the ER closure is a significant problem, it is just the latest in a string of troubles at the Rosebud facility.

In 2015, CMS threatened to end the Rosebud hospital's Medicare contract due to a number of deficiencies, such as hospital staff hand washing surgical instruments for six months while a sterilizer was broken. Although the hospital is no longer at immediate risk of having its Medicare contract terminated, a CMS spokesman told the Argus Leader the facility will have surprise re-inspections to ensure improvement plans are being followed.

"The findings in recent CMS reports are both alarming and unacceptable, so we must work to ensure that IHS facilities are providing quality care to our tribal citizens," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said in a statement to the Argus Leader.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs agreed to discuss the issues after U.S. Sens. Thune and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) sent a letter to the committee last month requesting that members address the sub-standard healthcare services offered in the Great Plains region.

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