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Council Studies Health Issues

By E. Bowers

HOLLYWOOD - Diabetes treatment and care was the major issue at the special Council meeting held on Oct. 29. Health Director Connie Whidden held a presentation on contract health care, funding, expenditures, Family Services, and the health status of the Tribe.

According to Whidden, there are 302 Diabetes patients in the Tribe, or 9.7 percent of the population, making it the seventh highest in the USET area. Another 100 Tribal members are estimated to be diabetic, but unaware of their condition.

Along with heart disease, chronic renal failure, and kidney failure associated with Diabetes, another major problem is non-compliance from patients. "People will not come in when they need to," said Whidden. "We can only do so much."

The bulk of the discussion centered on those who take advantage of the free health care supplied to them. Chairman James E. Billie and Whidden agreed that the "same faces" do not take their appointments seriously. Whidden stated that the Community Health Representatives (CHR) will start to report those who avoid their home visits.

Another reason for the reluctance of some Tribal members to visit the clinic were because of personal conflicts between Tribal members and the clinic personnel, said Immokalee liaison Elaine Aguilar. This was echoed by Dr. Van Gelder.

According to Van Gelder, the patients can be split into two groups, "Those who come by and those who don't."

The key is to find a way to streamline the costs of those who do not visit. Dr. Van Gelder also acknowledged the conflicts that have arisen over the years and stated that "the key is our attitude towards the community."

The Council also:

*Approved a resolution for the Seminole Department of Law Enforcement to establish and operate an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) benefit unit for the Big Cypress Reservation. "Our goal is to get it up and running in 90 days," said Tom Hernan, Chief of the Seminole Police Department.

*Approved a resolution presented by Purchasing Director Denise DeCarolis, who was conservatively dressed, for the purchase of two dump trucks for Blue Top Construction.

*Dec. 17 was announced as the date for the Seminole Tribe Christmas Party, to be held at the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center. The entertainment will be announced at a later date.

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