By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and South College Asheville (SCA) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 4 that tribal officials hope will encourage more tribal members to enter the health care field. Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed and Dr. Lisa Satterfield, SCA campus president, signed the MOU in the Office of the Principal Chief with SCA officials and officials from the Tribe’s Higher Education Program.
Chief Sneed thanked SCA officials and commented during the event, “As you are probably well aware, if you look at our hospital and our health care system, we have a very robust health care system. We are very proud of Phase II of our hospital where we place a very strong emphasis on mental health. We believe that, west of Hickory, we probably have the most robust mental health care system in the region.”
He went on to say, “Unfortunately, looking at our work force, we only have a very small percentage of tribal citizens that actually work in our health care system. And, we would certainly like to see that number increase. The MOU that we are entering into today, I think supports that and makes a cornerstone for the opportunities for our people to be able to go to school and then come back and work in our own health care system.”
The MOU states, “SCA will develop and deliver programs to introduce and guide EBCI students to careers in the health care field to include elementary, middle school, high school, and young adult age groups.”
The agreement also states that the EBCI will assign an education specialist who will “guide students with one-on-one service through SCA programs, financial aid, scholarships, student services, and admission requirements”.
“Responding to the urgent need for greater equity effectiveness in health care services for Native Americans, South College Asheville and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribe have established a Memorandum of Understanding,” Judith James, South College director of clinical education, said during Tuesday’s event. “This agreement, leveraging the strength of South College Master of Health Science School of Physician Assistant Studies in Asheville, will prepare Tsalagi tribal members through professional, career-focused curricula designed to encourage the application of Native American knowledge, critical thinking, effective communication, and lifelong learning.”
She added, “Together, we will develop a Native American health care infrastructure that will maintain and sustain the health and welfare of the Tsalagi people. The mission of the agreement embraces the EBCI cultural knowledge, skills, and resilience to create hope and healing, arming the Tsalagi patient population with tools needed to promote health.”
For more information on South College, visit: https://www.south.edu/locations/asheville.