Anna Whiting Sorrell has been named director of the Billings Area Indian Health Service.
She assumed her new duties on Monday. Sorrell will succeed longtime director Pete Conway.
For the past four years, Whiting Sorrell, 55, served as director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. She is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe.
Sen. Jon Tester, whose office released the information about Whiting Sorrell’s new job on Thursday, praised her leadership, hard work and success in improving access to health care in Montana.
“I congratulate her on her new post and look forward to working with her to provide folks in Indian Country with quality health care,” Tester said.
Gordon Belcourt, executive director of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, said his organization is excited about working with Whiting Sorrell.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity to work with her and support her in this new venture," Belcourt said Thursday morning.
Being a member of a Montana tribe and having worked as a leader in Montana health care make her a good fit for the job, he said.
"She's got an uphill battle because IHS is funded in general at less than 50 percent of the need," Belcourt said. "So we want to be as supportive as possible."
Belcourt said the council hopes to meet with her next week to hear her plans.
The Billings area office provides health services to more than 70,000 American Indian and Alaska Native people in Montana and Wyoming. The Billings Area clinical staff includes about 54 physicians, 179 nurses, 29 dentists and 33 pharmacists at three hospitals, nine health centers, six health stations and other sites.