Each day there are community members and programs all across the Great Plains who are living a life that exemplifies what it means to “Be a good relative”. This Tribal-spotlight series will provide a platform to recognize the everyday work of community members who are stepping up for others.
Good Relatives being highlighted this month include:
Brenna Lanoue – Great Plains Emergency Operations Center Director
Danette Serr and Molly Longbrake – Eagle Butte Field Health Nurses
Bernita In The Woods – Chairwoman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Health Committee
Mona Zuffante – Public Health Administrator, Winnebago Public Health Department
Please scroll to read about each nominee
In times of crisis, leaders present themselves through their actions. The Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board has been lucky to have many talented people step up to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic; Brenna Lanoue has been one of them.
“The pressure on public health providers to perform at their highest ability has never been greater than right now. Without the commitment and passion of people like Brenna, the Health Board would never have been able to respond to the community’s needs as it has. Her work has helped many of our people navigate these difficult times, and she deserves recognition for what she has contributed,” said Brandon Ecoffey, Communications Director for the Health Board.
Brenna originally started at GPTLHB in 2017 as a Patient Navigator for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Most recently, however, the University of Chicago alum has served as the We Are Warriors Emergency Operations Center Director. Under her guidance, We Are Warriors has disseminated tens of thousands of PPE items, several hundred food baskets to quarantined families, and assisted in assuring the COVID-19 testing is available to tribal citizens in the Black Hills area and beyond.
Danette Serr and Molly Longbrake
The frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic are not for the slight of heart. Luckily, Danette Serr and Molly Longbrake, and the rest of the Eagle Butte Field Health Nursing Program have been up to the task.
“They have been doing an outstanding job since the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe declared the State of Emergency in March. They are going above and beyond by performing their regular work duties in addition to added COVID-19 responsibilities,” said a patient.
The two public health nurses have assisted Cheyenne River Sioux tribal Chairman Harold Frazier in providing general updates to the community. They have tirelessly worked to ensure that patients continue to receive the medical care they need while taking on new public health challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many others in the healthcare industry, these two nurses have been asked to take on more and more. We are grateful to have them serving our relatives on Cheyenne River.
Bernita In The Woods
Choosing to serve the people as an elected official is a difficult journey to choose and one that requires a selfless approach to the job. A longtime contributor to the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board and a member of the Mni Luzahan Wicozoni Advisory Committee, Ms. Bernita In The Woods is one of those elected officials who has consistently put the people first.
As Chairwoman for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Health Committee, she has established herself as a reliable and consistent presence at council meetings and on calls related to COVID-19. Her support of proactive and lifesaving policy decisions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 has saved hundreds of lives.
“She always has thoughtful ideas and questions to contribute to discussions related to the Tribe’s COVID-19 response. She has consistently advocated for health-protective measures and always makes herself available to be a listening ear to her constituents,” said one tribal-citizen.
Being a council representative is often tiresome and thankless, but this is true even more so now. Despite it all, Ms. In The Woods continues to show up and serve her Tribal community as a Good Relative.
Mona Zuffante is the Winnebago Public Health Department’s Public Health Administrator who exemplifies what it means to be a Good Relative through her advocacy for healthcare and wellness in her community.
With COVID-19 testing the skills and determination of healthcare providers across the country, Mona’s actions throughout the duration of this public health crisis have earned her this highlight.
“She is a persistent figure in that most people in the community have turned to for direction and questions in this dire time of need. Mona has worked night and day for nearly a year to care for others by helping organize, distribute, and provide for others who have been directly impacted,” said a community member.
Mona has created and operated a COVID-19 hotline that community members can call, aided in providing public health updates, and played a vital role in the Winnebago community’s pandemic response. Mona Zuffante is the definition of a Good Relative.