President and chief nursing officer, Tribal Health
For Whittney LaCroix, a career in healthcare leadership was never the goal. But when the opportunity presented itself, LaCroix knew she had to take it to improve access to care in her community.
Growing up as a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and working as a clinician at Rosebud Hospital on the reservation in South Dakota, LaCroix said the subpar medical care was evidence of just how chronically underfunded the Indian Health Service is.
After the closure of the community’s only emergency department, and the turnover that followed, LaCroix stepped up, taking supervisory roles at the hospital and eventually becoming chief nursing officer.
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“We don’t have a lot of Native representation at the table when decisions are being made about the healthcare our people receive,” she said. “To create sustainable change, we have to have our voice heard. So I do it for my community, my family, my kids. For future generations.”
In 2021, LaCroix was named president and CNO at Tribal Health, a staffing company serving Indian Health Service facilities across the U.S. She has helped hospitals with practice management, emergency department leadership pathways, and training in culturally competent care.
LaCroix said one of the most gratifying experiences of her career so far was working with the town of Dilkon, Arizona, part of Navajo Nation, to recruit and train staff for a new hospital in 2023. Before the hospital opened in August, residents had limited access to medical care, with many needing to drive up to 90 minutes to pick up a prescription.