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The Meskwaki Health Clinic, located in Tama, Iowa, will be awarded the National Indian Health Board’s “Heroes in Health Award” during a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, October 6. 

Every year, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) honors a select group of people and organizations who represent outstanding service improving Native health.

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In a statement to the media, Meskwaki Health Clinic notes that its health care team “worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, providing more than 6,000 COVID-19 shots to the Settlement’s residents and staff, as well as to under-served communities throughout central Iowa.  As a tribe of just over 1,450 people, the health clinic served more than four times their tribe’s population, providing life-saving shots to anyone wishing to be vaccinated.”

The award recognizes this work rising above and beyond the challenges faced. 

“It takes a great team to lead in an enormous project like this, and we have an outstanding staff who really stepped up to take on the challenge,” Meskwaki Health Director Rudy Papakee said in a press release. According to the statement, Papakee and his team “by-passed the state’s mandates to get earlier shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine via the federal government’s Indian Health Services… With an early vaccination supply and a willing community ready to receive the shot, the Meskwaki Settlement as a whole held a much higher vaccination rate than much of the U.S. early on and was able to remain virus free for most of the summer.”

The task seemed daunting at first, but the team rose to the challenge.

“Initially, organizing it seemed a bit overwhelming, but completely worth every bit of effort we’ve put in so far,” Clinic Nurse Manager Sara Augspurger said in a statement. “I’m super proud of our staff, I feel they deserve this award.  We’re grateful to the NIHB for recognizing our work.”

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