Enhancing Healthcare and Experiencing Culture
For more than 15 years, Leidos has been in partnership with Native American and Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes and IHS to deliver enhanced services to their communities nationwide. This often involves interesting travel along with the opportunity to experience unique cultures in those tribal communities – all while working to provide modernized dental care and veteran disability exams.
Leidos works side-by-side with IHS to provide an electronic dental record (EDR) system to AI/AN communities. These records have been largely standardized across tribal sites, so dentists have access to the information they need and can spend more time on patient care – often in locations that are so remote that it takes patients several hours of driving time to reach the clinic.
Similarly, Leidos subsidiary QTC Management currently operates eight mobile clinics providing medical exams for veterans who would otherwise be forced to travel up to several hundred miles for a claims evaluation. Since 2018, QTC has served Native American veterans of four tribes: the Makah, Suquamish and Lower Elwha Klallam tribes in Washington State, and the Rosebud Sioux tribe in South Dakota, providing as many as 15 veteran evaluations per day.
The remoteness of some AI/AN facilities means that the Leidos and QTC teams make extensive arrangements to be on-site. For instance, travel to one site has included helicopter transportation to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to serve the village of Supai, which is so remote that it remains the only place in America that gets its mail and supplies via mule train.
The teams have also reached isolated destinations by flying in on a small seaplane, as is the case with reservations in the Aleutian Islands.
Robert Busuttil, a Leidos senior technical account manager co-leading a team providing an electronic dental record (EDR) system to AI/AN communities, says, “Sometimes we come in on flights that only run once a week, which means we're there for the entire week. So, we get to experience life on the islands and interact with residents."
Life in these remote locations has its wonderfully unique appeals, notes Busuttil, and members of the tribal communities have shown gracious hospitality to our teams.
He recalls the time members of the Eastern Aleutian Tribes in Adak, Alaska, insisted on taking him fishing for salmon—and then showed him how to feed two bald eagles watching nearby putting the salmon out on a rock for the eagles and then stepping back to watch them enjoy their snack.
Somewhat less enchanting was the time an earthquake struck while he was there. Seeing his reaction, his native hosts quickly explained that earthquakes are routine occurrences there. “That was reassuring… sort of," explains Busuttil.
Sheree Cales, associate director of mobile clinical operations at QTC, has experienced culture through the generosity of tribal members showing their appreciation for the efforts she and her colleagues have undertaken to serve their communities.
When Cales and her team visited the Makah Tribe, they were invited to a dinner where they sat with members of the tribe as they sang some of the songs that are unique to different families and listened to elders tell stories. Two days later, the Suquamish Tribe presented the Leidos team with a hand-made warrior blanket in a special ceremony upon the team’s arrival there.
“It really affected us to receive these honors and to hear about their heritage," says Cales. “It was one of the best weeks of my life."