For the third consecutive summer, a Bluefield State College nursing faculty member will spend four weeks of her summer as a Nurse Practitioner on an Indian Reservation. Sheila Parks (R.N., M.S.N.), an associate professor of nursing at BSC, will provide volunteer health care at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, beginning May 25.
Krista Richmond, a Beckley resident and president of the BSC Beckley Campus Student Nursing Association, will also participate in the project. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," she said. "I will be working with Prof. Parks in the outpatient clinic and working in the hospital as an lextern."'
Two years ago, Parks worked with the Navajo Nation in Arizona, and last year she spent six weeks as a volunteer health care provider for the Oglala Lakota Sioux Indians at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, SD.
"The Rosebud is the second largest Sioux Reservation in the United States (tribal membership 15,438)," Parks noted. "I will be working in the outpatient clinic, located within the hospital." Major health problems faced by the residents of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation include Type 11 diabetes, TB, asthma, poor nutrition and obesity. Fifty-five percent of Rosebud's residents live in substandard housing. After last year's work at the Ogiala Lakota Sioux Reservation, Parks observed, "Many of the Sioux must do without water and electricity. "Their diet does not include many fresh fruits and vegetables, contributing to diabetes within the reservation."
Parks anticipates traveling to the Black Hills of South Dakota to participate in a volksmarch at Crazy Horse Mountain, and view several historically significant sites. "It's almost like living history when you drive through Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge, or watch the re-enactment of the Battle of Little Big Horn," she said.
Parks' sponsor for the Rosebud Sioux Reservation trip is Arrow, Inc., a Washington, D.C.based nonprofit organization that supplements health care to Native Americans.