The CEO of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Clinic has been given an award for leadership in handling COVID-19 activities.
Cynthia Jacobs was honored with the Great Plains Area director’s award for Outstanding COVID-19 Activities Friday by the clinic’s medical staff, the Covid response team and tribal president Tony Reider. The area office is in Aberdeen and serves Native Americans in South Dakota and North Dakota.
Reider said the team in charge of the tribe’s Covid response for the tribe did a good job, and so far, there have been no deaths from the virus. With the team’s guidance, the tribe brought meals to people so they wouldn’t have to go out in the public and kept elders and families healthy with the policies they implemented. The efforts helped keep people safe county-wide, “because we’re all one community,” he said.
“We appreciate everything that was done,” Reider said. “We’re feeling good about going forward in the future.”
Jacobs leadership helped with screening protocols, securing test kits before other in the area, revised visitor and cleaning policies, staff policies, developing an epidemiology team and contract tracing, planning with the tribal leadership, securing protective equipment and supplies, implementing telehealth, seeking additional money, working with the Royal River Casino to provide lunch for clinic staff, holding a mass community screening and inspiring a Covid mindset within the tribal community.
Jacobs said the award is for everyone. “It brings recognition to the tribe. This clinic is absolutely amazing.” During the pandemic, the clinic never closed down.
Clinic employees are 82 percent vaccinated and have given more than 1,100 shots with more than 600 people fully vaccinated, since the tribe first offered shots in late December.
“Our patients here have been very open to vaccinations,” she said. “We haven’t heard, ‘We’re not coming.’” More recently, though, the number of people seeking vaccinations has slowed. It’s hard to measure who else needs the shots and to find people you are not reaching, she said.
The work to treat positive cases within the tribe and to vaccinate people would not have happened without the employees, who often had to take on jobs that were not their regular work and had to rethink all aspects of the clinic’s services, she said. Even the routing of patients through the facility had to change.
“This is not an easy thing to do at a time when things are so uncertain,” she said. “You were all the inspiration.”
Dr. Joe Prasek helped present Jacobs with a star quilt in bright colors, a gift she plans to display in her office. “We’re grateful to have you here,” he said.