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With hiccups adjusted, new Counseling Center complex to open

Going forward, the Osage Nation Counseling Center and PRT will both be housed in one complex in Pawhuska and scheduled for a June opening.

Over the past year, the Si-Si A-Pe-Txa board has directed an audit of the counseling center’s programs and found “basic documentation discrepancies” within billing and coding performed by administration. As a result of the billing and coding errors, the counseling center remitted funds back to Oklahoma’s Medicaid (SoonerCare) program. While these errors were being corrected, both brief comments in Congress on Feb. 20, as well as a Feb. 26 press release, confirmed that care and client services were provided in an uninterrupted manner while the administrative billing errors were redressed.  

On Feb. 20, Si-Si A-Pe-Txa legal adviser Alyssa Campbell attested during the Congressional Health and Social Services Committee meeting that the board had found “errors” while conducting their year-long process improvement of the health clinic. A report to the Attorney General’s office would follow, Campbell said, and would detail those errors which could not be further discussed due to client-privilege information.  

“As you know, the health clinic is going to be put into a new building,” Campbell said. “And as part of our process improvement, we’ve discovered some errors.” Congress responded with one question before immediately going into executive session to discuss the privileged information. The question, from Congresswoman Jodie Revard, inquired if counseling services were still being provided and whether the counseling department was fully staffed, to be able to accommodate patient needs.  

“Fully staffed,” replied Campbell. 

A follow-up on the counseling center administrative billing and coding issues came on Feb. 26 in the form of a press release from Osage Communications detailing that the Si Si A-Pe-Txa board had resolved the insurance-related problems. The release indicated the board has self-reported the errors to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, as required by policy. 

Of the errors, and their resolution, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said, “Since these and other challenges were identified and overcome with our team, we are now extremely confident and comfortable with the fixes and training provided by the Health System’s outside consultants. Due to the Health Board and executive team’s leadership on this matter, the counseling center is now in a much better position for properly charting, coding, and billing for the essential counseling services provided within these programs due to these compliance actions taken by their team.” 

Additionally, the press release noted the Si-Si A-Pe-Txa board had made “changes in personnel and leadership,” which would “accelerat[e] successful compliance efforts with identification, response and resolution.”  

New Counseling and PRT Complex  

Primary residential treatment (PRT) and Osage Nation counseling will no longer be in separate locations—as has been the case. Going forward, counseling and PRT will both be housed in one complex, to be located north of Pawhuska’s Elks Lodge and US 60, and scheduled for a June opening.  

Related grant programs will also be housed in the mental health campus, officially called the Osage Nation Health System Counseling Center Complex. According to Wahzhazhe Health Center CEO Mark Rogers, the purpose of locating grants in the same complex is for better integration of services, “and mutual support of all on-site programs for both in-patient treatment and counseling services, as well as outpatient counseling services and support to serviced clients.”  

The complex, valued at $15,399,736, will comprise of five facilities totaling roughly 22,500 square footage, which will include a men’s PRT facility (4,500 square feet), women’s PRT facility (4,000 square feet), adolescent PRT (6,000 square feet), and a men’s and women’s transitional living space (3,000 square feet). The project was funded by the Osage Nation via American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds available for behavioral health needs and public health impacts exacerbated by the pandemic. The Nation appropriated these ARPA funds for the purchase and development of the property.  

According to the press release from Osage Communications, the purpose of transitional living is to function as a step down from residential treatment. Those who reside in transition living will “be able to work and attend outside meetings while maintaining the supportive net of ONCC and an Outpatient Building (approximately 5,000 square feet),” read the release.  

ONCC services include mental health, substance use, marriage, and family, school-based, and trauma-focused counseling. Peer recovery and case management services include assistance with legal problems, medical care, social services, financial training, social support, housing assistance, literacy training, and education needs. Residential services include a 90-day treatment focusing on relapse prevention, anger management, Wellbriety, 12 steps and trauma, with an emphasis on cultural connection. 

“It is a very exciting time, and much work has been accomplished in preparing for this big day with our much improved, and now compliant, counseling services and programs,” said Cindra Shangreau, SSAPT Board Chairwoman. “The challenges and process improvements have been underway healthy-system-wide for the last several months, with improved billing, coding, charting, training, and other important compliance workflow process improvements, better positioning us for continued success after the move into our new campus location. With our own Health System’s IT network being launched and with electronic health records implementation, our HIPAA and other protected health information will be more secure and controlled. It will also have a physical and information security layer built into the new platform.” 

To engage with the Osage Nation Counseling Center and services, visit www.osagenation-nsn.gov/services/counseling-center. Outpatient services are available to all members of the community, while residential services are exclusively available to members of any federally recognized tribe. Call (918) 287-5413 to schedule intake.

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Chelsea T. Hicks
Chelsea T. Hickshttps://osagenews.org
Title: Staff Reporter
Email: chelsea.hicks@osagenation-nsn.gov
Languages spoken: English
Chelsea T. Hicks’ past reporting includes work for Indian Country Today, SF Weekly, the DCist, the Alexandria Gazette-Packet, Connection Newspapers, Aviation Today, Runway Girl Network, and elsewhere. She has also written for literary outlets such as the Paris Review, Poetry, and World Literature Today. She is Wahzhazhe, of Pawhuska District, belonging to the Tsizho Washtake, and is a descendant of Ogeese Captain, Cyprian Tayrien, Rosalie Captain Chouteau, Chief Pawhuska I, and her iko Betty Elsey Hicks. Her first book, A Calm & Normal Heart, won the 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation. She holds an MA from the University of California, Davis, and an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts.
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