Dr. Rudd receives national honor


by: Photo By Susan Matheny - Dr. Miles Rudd

   Known for his health care activism and promotion of new technology, Dr. S. Miles Rudd, clinical director of the Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center, has been named the 2008 Physician of the Year by the Indian Health Service National Council of Clinical Directors.
   The award recognizes Rudd's outstanding service and commitment to improving the health of American Indians, and his work at the local, state and national level to meet the IHS mission of "raising the health of Native Americans to the highest possible level," a press release said.
   "I was extremely honored to receive the award because I know the high quality of the other doctors I work with in Indian health," Rudd said last Friday, during a break from work at the clinic.
   Rudd has been a physician at the Warm Springs clinic since 1994, and in 2002 served as president of the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.
   During his tenure, the OAFP established a task force with the American and Oregon medical associations to work on state initiatives to obtain universal health care for all Oregonians, and to cap soaring medical malpractice insurance.
   Locally, Rudd's biggest impact may have been a research project he did on the leading causes of death among Warm Springs patients.
   "In 2000, I worked on a mortality study, which resulted in the Confederated Tribes passing a seatbelt law on the reservation," Rudd said. His study showed accidental death, especially from car wrecks, was significant.
   Nationally, Rudd currently chairs the IHS National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which developed the core list of medications for all IHS clinics.
   Finding quality medications at the best value was critical to maintaining the viability of the IHS during a period of rising healthcare costs, the press release noted.
   He has been an enthusiastic promoter of the use of electronic patient health records within the IHS system, and is one of the most knowledgeable users himself.
   "We were one of the first sites to use electronic medical records vs. paper patient charts, and our clinic was very much involved in encouraging the use of it for the IHS," he said, adding, "We did a lot of training of other IHS clinics across the country."
   Rudd is currently advising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as they develop national standards to spread the usage of electronic medical records across the United States.
   In addition to those projects, Rudd also chairs the Mountain View Hospital Infection Control Committee, is the leading regional consultant for the IHS in combating tuberculosis, and for years has mentored Oregon Health and Sciences University medical students as a volunteer clinical assistant professor.
   In 2007, he was recognized for his dedication to training future physicians with the OHSU Carpenter Teaching Award.
   Rudd and his wife Saundra live in Madras with their two children, Jamie, 12, and Jacob, 10, and he said they were glad to put down roots here.
   "A lot of people don't realize that the Warm Springs clinic is one of the best places in IHS to work, because we are often the innovators and others look to us," Rudd said, adding, "That's part of what makes working here so enjoyable."
   Warm Springs has one of the most stable IHS staffs, he said, noting, "Dr. Creelman has been here over 32 years, Dr. Manning 26 years, Dr. Locker 11 years, and I've been here 13 years. At other places I looked before coming here, the average physician's stay was two years."
   That stability and the right mix of staff has allowed Warm Springs Health and Wellness to be innovators, he feels.
   "They brought the right people together who are interested in making changes in health care," Rudd said.