• About the Epicenter
  • History
  • Goals
  • Projects & Programs
  • Other Epicenters
  • Research in Indian Country
  • 2018 TPHEP
  • 2021 Tribal Public Health Emergency
    Preparedness Conference
  • Contact Us

The mission of the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (The EpiCenter) is to collaborate with Northwest American Indian Tribes to provide health-related research, surveillance, training and technical assistance to improve the quality of life of American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/ANs).

The EpiCenter is one of twelve national Centers charged with collecting tribal health status data, evaluating data monitoring and delivery systems, and assisting tribes in identifying local priorities for healthcare delivery and health education. Since 1997, The EpiCenter has administered a number of successful health research and surveillance projects serving the Northwest Tribes.

The EpiCenter serves the 43 federally recognized tribes in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Until recently, monitoring and surveillance of disease and disease risk factors among AI/AN people has been a function of the Indian Health Service (IHS). In the Portland Area, which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho, downsizing diminished the capabilities of IHS to adequately perform basic epidemiologic functions such as monitoring the health status of AI/AN communities.

In 1997, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) received funding for the development of the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (The EpiCenter), with the goal to assist member tribes to improve their health status and quality of life.

The EpiCenter is conducted and administered by NPAIHB, a non-profit tribal advisory board established in 1972 to advocate and provide technical assistance for the 43 Federally recognized tribes of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

There are now ten national Centers charged with collecting data relating to and monitoring progress towards meeting the health status objectives; evaluating delivery systems and data systems; and assisting tribes to identify high priority needs for health care delivery and health education.

Tribal health research and surveillance priorities are identified by NPAIHB delegates on an annual basis. The EpiCenter’s current goals include:

Assisting communities in implementing disease surveillance systems and identifying health status priorities.
Providing health specific data and community health profiles for Tribal communities.
Conducting tribal health research and program evaluation.
Partnering with tribal, state, and federal agencies to improve the quality and accuracy of AI/AN health data.

Current projects being funded by the Northwest Epicenter include:

  • Hepatitis C Project
  • Immunization Project
  •  Improving Data and  Enhancing Access – Northwest (IDEA_NW)
  • Northwest Tribal Dental Support Center
  • Project Red Talon
  • Western Tribal Diabetes Program
  • Northwest comprehensive Cancer Prevention Program
  • Native Children Always Ride Safe (Native CARS)
  • Tots to ‘Tweens
  • Native American Research Centers for Health (NW-NARCH)
  • Thrive
  • Wellness for Every American Indian to View and Achieve Health Equity (WEAVE-NW)
  • Injury Prevention Project

View the National EpiCenters map

Lisa Neel, MPH

Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TEC) Public Health Advisor
12300 Twinbrook Pkwy.
Suite 450a
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-443-4305

John Mosley Hayes, DrPh, MBA, MSPH Senior Epidemiologist
Phone: 301-443-2556

Alaska Native

Director—Ellen M. Provost, DO, MPH
3900 Ambassador Drive-Epicenter
Anchorage, AK   99508
Email: emprovost@anthc.org
Office Phone (907) 729-4567
Office Fax     (907) 729-4569


Albuquerque Area Southwest

Director—Kevin English, RPh, MPH
5015 Prospect Avenue NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Email: epidirector@aaihb.org
Phone: (505) 962-2602
Fax: (505) 764-0446

Acting Director – Vanesscia Cresci, MSW, MPA
4400 Auburn Blvd, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95841
PHN: (916) 929-9761
FAX: (916) 929-7246

Great Lakes
Interim CEO John Parins
P.O. Box 9
2932 HWY 47 North – FEDEX
Lac du Flambeau, WI 54538
PHN: (715) 588-1093
FAX: (715) 588-7900

Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. TEC
Director – Jamie Ritchey, PhD
2214 N Central Ave., Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85004
PHN: (602) 258-4822
FAX: (602) 258-4825

Director, Ramona Antone Nez, MPH, BSN
P.O. Box 1390
Window Rock, AZ 86515
PHN: (928) 871-6539
FAX: (928) 871-3474

Great Plains
Director – PJ Beaudry, MPH
1770 Rand Road
Rapid City, SD 57702
PHN: (605) 721-1922 ext. 155
FAX: (605) 721-1932

Rocky Mountain
Director – Mike Andreini, MPH
711 Central Ave. Suite 220
Billings, MT 59102
Phone: (406) 252-2550 ext. 404
Fax: (406) 254-6355
Director, Ramona Antone Nez, MPH, BSN ramona.nez@nndoh.org
P.O. Box 1390
Window Rock, AZ 86515
PHN: (928) 871-6539
FAX: (928) 871-3474

Urban Indian Health Institute
Epidemiology Center
Director – Abigail Echo-Hawk, MA
P.O. Box 3364
Seattle, WA 98114
611 12th Avenue South, Suite #300
Seattle, WA 98144
PHN: (206) 812-3030
FAX: (206) 812-3044

Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center
Director – Tracy Prather, RT, CVT, MHA
P.O. Box 5826
Edmond, OK 73083
9705 North Broadway Extension, Suite 150
Oklahoma City, OK 73114 – FEDEX
PHN: (405) 652-9216
FAX: (405) 840-7052

United South and Eastern Tribes
Assistant Director – Kate Grismala, MS
711 Stewarts Ferry Pike, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37214
PHN: (860) 235-6371
FAX: (615) 872-7417

Researchers must be sensitive to the local culture, traditions, research priorities, and lifestyle of AI/AN communities.  Furthermore, researchers must be responsible and accountable to the tribal government where the research is being conducted.  Tribal communities are sovereign nations.  Listed below are suggestions for improving research sensitivity and responsibility to tribal governments and communities:

Researcher Sensitivity

  • Ensure understanding and good communication
  • Respect tribal culture and traditions
  • Respect tribal sovereignty and self-determination
  • Respect concerns and opinions of community
  • Respect local research priorities and needs
  • Respect individuals, families, and communities
  • Respect human participants’ rights and dignity
  • Exclude over-studied populations from participation
  • Demystify research
  • Be accessible
  • Provide feed-back and findings in a timely manner
  • Respect a tribe’s right to decline participation
  • Respect the autonomy and decisions of the tribe

Researcher Responsibility

  • Communicate and coordinate with tribal leaders
  • Negotiate tribal and community consent to participate
  • Maximize benefits and minimize risks
  • Protect human participants and sensitive data
  • Comply with informed consent process
  • Obtain service unit director, tribal, IHS research committee, and IRB approval
  • Do not begin research until all approvals are obtained
  • Share results of the research with the tribes
  • Protect participant and tribal identity
  • Build capacity within the community
  • Comply with the agreed-upon protocol specifications
  • Comply with tribal and IHS publication clearance

2018 Tribal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Conference

May 16-18, 2018

Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort

Suquamish, WA


2018 Conference Agenda Day 1   2018 Conference Agenda Day 2   2018 Conference Agenda Day 3


Session Presentations:


Tribal Community Preparedness: One Tribe’s Experiences on the Continuous Cycle of Preparedness ~ Lou Schmitz, American Indian Health Commission for Washington State; Kelly Sullivan, Kerstin Powell, and Sam White, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe

Tribal Youth Radio Training Programs for Preparedness ~ Lee Shipman, Shoalwater Bay Tribe; Dan Martinez, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

Preparing for a Public Health Emergency: The Tribal Legal Preparedness Project ~ Tina Hershey, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Disaster Behavioral Health: Post-Disaster Resources for Emotional Support and Recovery ~ Rebecca Bolante, Bolante.NET

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Principles ~ Celia Toles, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Community and Healthcare Preparedness Tools ~ Jean Randolph, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

A Look at Access and Functional Needs ~ Jim House, Washington State Independent Living Council

Community Resiliency: Establishing the Tribal Mitigation Framework for Planning and Projects ~ Brett Holt, Jonathan Olds, and Brenna Humphrey, FEMA Region X; Dan Tolliver, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe

Safer Communities Through Behavioral Threat Assessment Teams ~ Rebecca Bolante, Bolante.NET

Outbreak Investigations in Indian Country: What an Emergency Manager Needs to Know ~ Fauna Larkin, Coquille Tribe; Richard Leman, Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division

Assuring Effective Delivery of Medical Countermeasures to Tribes Through Collaboration ~ Lou Schmitz and Heather Erb, American Indian Health Commission for Washington State

T-Rex 2019: Medical Countermeasures Distribution Full Scale Exercise ~ Cory Portner, Ted Fischer, and Collette Byrd, Washington State Department of Health

Lessons from the Field: 2017-2018 Disaster Response DeploymentsPresentation 1  Presentation 2  Presentation 3  ~ Kristen Baird Romero, Washington State Department of Health; Jennifer Cockrill, US Department of Health and Human Services ASPR Region X; Carina Elsenboss, Public Health – Seattle & King County; John Fulton, FEMA Region X; Greg McKnight, Washington State Department of Health

Preserving What Works Well: Tribal-State-NPAIHB-IHS MOUs in Oregon ~ Richard Leman, Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division; Victoria Warren-Mears, NPAIHB

The Mutual Aid Agreement for Tribes and Local Health Jurisdictions in Washington State ~ Lou Schmitz and Heather Erb, American Indian Health Commission for Washington State

Climate Change and Public Health – Seattle & King County: Building Community Departmental Capacity ~ Robin Pfohman and Colin Rhodes, Public Health – Seattle & King County

Government to Government: What Works and What Doesn’t ~ Dan Martinez, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

The Washington State Indian Healthcare Improvement Act: Adding Tribal Representation to Washington State’s Emergency Management Council ~ Heather Erb and Lou Schmitz, American Indian Health Commission for Washington State; Lee Shipman, Shoalwater Bay Tribe

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication: Tools You Can Use ~ Jamie Bash, Oregon Health Authority

Climate and Health: Voices of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs ~ Dan Martinez, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs


2021 Tribal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Conference

Little Creek Casino

Shelton, WA

April 25-30, 2021

(Date tentative based on rules regarding public gatherings in Washington State)

Conference Agenda.


Call for Presenters

Pre-Conference Training:

Community Healthcare Planning and Response to Disasters

Session Presentations 

Day One

Day Two

Day Three