The Village of Aniak plans to purchase masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields to protect health care providers when they are conducting COVID-19 testing. Because Aniak is a hub for regional flights, their goal is to establish a testing site at the airfield.
The Georgia Health Policy Center recently spoke with Laura Simeon, tribal administrator CEO for the Aniak Traditional Council, and Wayne Morgan, chief of the Aniak Traditional Council.
What has been the biggest accomplishment to date as part of your Rural Tribal COVID-19 Response Grant?
Laura: When we got started with the grant, we hired two people, a coordinator and an assistant. And the good thing about those two, which we kept in mind during hiring, was that they had medical background experience, including one of them as a first responder.
Wayne: We ordered supplies immediately. There is high demand for personal protective equipment throughout the country, if not the world, so we are very lucky that we were able to jump on that right away and we have them in our possession, while others are having shortage.
What is an early learning that you would share with an organization launching a similar program?
Laura: A tip for all grantees is to get all your agreements together — your memorandum of understanding with other organizations, whether they are in your community or if you are in a sub-regional area. When you apply for the grant, start getting all your ducks in, even before the project starts. That way, your plans will not get held up.
Wayne: I would advise for tribes that are new to this, to have the coordinator start having meetings amongst the organizations. Bring in leadership within your community, to start a meeting. And let their tribe know what their responsibilities are. Have your meetings early within your reservation, your tribe, and get leadership together to try and to establish testing sites. Also, read up on the grant, first thing before you received the money to find out the objectives right away, and then use that as your guide.
How do you see participation in the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy’s grantee program impacting your efforts to combat COVID-19?
Laura: We know every village is different, but we watched and listened to see how each village was preparing for it. We listened in on a lot of the teleconferences, where we got ideas on preparations from various agencies. Thank goodness COVID-19 didn’t hit our area for a long time, so that gave us some time to be prepared for this.