A special report on race in Montana by The University of Montana School of Journalism
Northern Cheyenne
Fort Peck
Rocky Boy's
Ft. Belknap
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  Photo by Lee Tortorelli

Leola Kennedy was misdiagnosed several times during the course of repeated visits to Blackfeet Community Hospital. By the time she was sent off the reservation for diagnostic scans of a baseball-sized lump on her neck, cancer had spread to her brain.


Urgent Care
The Indian Health Service is badly underfunded. Reservation patients are paying the price.

Story by Tristan Scott
Photos by Lee Tortorelli



Busy Hall and her daughter, Ida Racine, say they have been misdiagnosed by Browning health services on numerous occasions. Hall believes her sister died prematurely because her cancer had spread before doctors diagnosed it.

A crowd lines up outside of the pharmacy in Browning's hospital waiting to get inexpensive or free medication for enrolled members of the Blackfeet tribe.

Dr. Mary DesRosier knows the system for properly diagnosing patients is poorly handled. She feels compelled to "fudge" on doctor referrals for patients, which allows them to visit a Great Falls Hospital for necessary care.

Doctors at Indian Health Services in Browning work 24-hour shifts in the emergency room - 12-hours on-duty, 12-hours on-call. Reservation law requires doctors to treat all medical emergencies. High demand make it difficult to find qualified doctors.

Ida Racine turned to traditional cures for her numerous ailments after she was misdiagnosed and over-medicated on several occasions by Indian Health Services in Browning.


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