Today, leaders of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) and Washoe County Health District officials signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) providing use of tribal facilities as Points of Dispensing (PODS) during public health emergencies.
“We have to work together because the threat of terrorism and the possibilities of pandemics entering our country make it a difficult time,” said RSIC Chairman Arlan D. Melendez. “We have to plan and train together for the safety and wellbeing of all people.”
The agreement, which will fast-track medications during public health emergencies, was solidified at a ceremony held at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center.
“This is the first signed agreement between a tribe and a county within the state of Nevada,” said Daniel Thayer, the Emergency Response Coordinator for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “It’s historic.”
According to health and tribal officials, the MOU will provide continued collaboration and regional partnership between RSIC and Washoe County Health District by increasing infrastructure and resource sharing in the distribution of prophylaxis medications in a public health emergency.
PODS can quickly provide massive numbers of life-saving medications to large numbers of people during emergencies. Additionally PODS can be set up in neighborhoods and community centers that people can get to easily.
“This agreement will allow us, in case of an emergency, to push out large amounts of medications in a very short time,” said Stephen Shipman, the Washoe County Health District Emergency Response Coordinator. “In order to get this done, it involves medical experts and we have to have professionals who are capable of doing that and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Health Center is.”
Several tribal and local officials attended the ceremony including Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Mr. Kevin Dick, Washoe County District Health Officer; members of the Reno-Sparks Tribal Council Jody McCloud and Jacqueline Quoetone; members of Washoe County District Board of Health: Reno Council Member Oscar Delgado, Dr. John Novak, City of Sparks Representative. and County Commissioner Bob Lucey.
The Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center (RSTHC) is a tribally-owned and operated clinic, location on the Colony. With a mission to enhancing the quality of life of all of American Indians by providing a culturally competent and patient-centered continuum of care.
“This Memorandum of Understanding is the product of coordinating emergency plans between RSIC and the Health District that will also provide training and exercise opportunities for our agencies,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “Public health preparedness is dependent of people working together to plan and practice our response efforts so that we can save lives when emergencies happen.”
The RSTHC plays a major role as part of the continuing health care for eligible American Indians / Alaskan Natives in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. With a staff of over 100 employees, the facility services over 1,100 tribal members and nearly 7,000 Urban Indians.
Since opening its 65,000-square-foot health center in 2008, the RSTHC’s dedicated team of highly-trained clinicians continues to offer a wide range of services include: adult medicine, pediatrics, mental health services, basic laboratory services, comprehensive dental care for children and adults, substance abuse services, pharmacy, eye care, nutrition, diabetes care, home visitation and injury prevention services.
The Washoe County District Board of Health, through the Washoe County Health District, has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Washoe County. Its mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Washoe County through health promotion, disease prevention, public health emergency preparedness, and environmental services. The Board of Health is composed of seven members, including two representatives each from Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, and a physician licensed to practice medicine in Nevada.