The Cherokee Nation’s Women, Infants and Children Program Breastfeeding Services staff cut the ribbon at a May 4 open house for the tribe’s new lactation center at 1234 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah, Okla. CHRISTINA GOOD VOICE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Nation opens breastfeeding center

Expectant mother Alayna Farris takes a tour of the nursing room during a May 4 open house at the Cherokee Nation’s new Breastfeeding Services Center at 1234 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah, Okla. CHRISTINA GOOD VOICE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The breastfeeding room of the Cherokee Nation’s new Breastfeeding Services Center offers a relaxing atmosphere, rocking chair and subdued lighting for nursing mothers. The center is located at 1234 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah, Okla. CHRISTINA GOOD VOICE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Expectant mother Alayna Farris takes a tour of the nursing room during a May 4 open house at the Cherokee Nation’s new Breastfeeding Services Center at 1234 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah, Okla. CHRISTINA GOOD VOICE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
05/06/2011 06:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Alayna Farris is expecting her first baby this fall. And though she’s months away from meeting her new arrival, she’s already decided to breastfeed her baby.

“(I plan to breastfeed because of) the benefits of the immunities that will be passed on to my baby,” she said. “And just making sure that I’m making the right choices to have a healthy baby.”

The Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children Program Breastfeeding Services have been assisting nursing mothers for several years, but now the program has its own site at 1234 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah.

The Breastfeeding Services group held an open house May 4 to show new and expecting moms where they can come for services and information such as peer counseling, educational information and expertise of other breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding Services Coordinator Brenda Carter said breastfeeding mothers need all the support they can get, and that’s the purpose of the center.

“We want our breastfeeding moms to feel special,” she said. “They’ve chosen to breastfeed, and we want to make sure they have the support they need. That’s one of the big reasons for people to continue breastfeeding, the support.”

The center has been a longtime dream of WIC Lactation Coordinator Euphemia John, Carter said. “She’s been our lactation coordinator for many years. In the back of her head she always had a special place for moms to come for support, classes and education.”

Support groups are a major aspect of the center, John said.

“That’s what we want to have here,” John said. “Support groups where women can support each other and share all their experiences they have. That helps them learn from each other.”

Farris said she’s always known she wanted to breastfeed her baby, especially since all her aunts breastfed their babies. “I saw how healthy all their babies were.”

She added that the center should be a great resource for new mothers.

“It’s more support,” Farris said. “The more support I can get in all aspects of having a new baby the better.”

John said the center’s atmosphere is a relaxed one, complete with neutral paint on the walls, photos of mothers and their babies and even a nursing room with a rocking chair, ottoman, subdued lighting, mural of a tropical beach on the wall and calming music.

“The subdued lighting is to have moms get comfortable sitting there, and get relaxed and comfortable,” she said.

WIC Nutrition Coordinator Pam Wedding said the mural is intended to relax mothers.

“The mural is another way of relaxing so that moms cannot feel tense,” Wedding said. “That’s counterproductive to the support. It’s a place with a comfortable chair where it doesn’t feel really clinical and medical.”

Farris said the entire center had the desired effect on her.

“It’s very relaxing,” she said. “It’s peaceful in here. It’s somewhere where I want to be.”

But Breastfeeding Services workers aren’t just helping nursing moms, they are also working to break the stigma of breastfeeding created by those who don’t understand the choice.

“It’s not just WIC that we have to educate,” Carter said. “It’s the different departments. And we’re working to do that.”

She said breastfeeding is generational in that it’s passed down in families, but some of the younger generations have ditched the method for bottle-feeding.

“My mom breastfed, but you know, (younger generations) skipped that,” Carter said.

She added that a state law supports breastfeeding mothers, a fact many people don’t realize.

John also said the CN WIC group is working with the Healthy Nation program to possibly create a billboard about breastfeeding to assist in that effort.

“I think when people don’t see it visually out there they’re not going to get used to the idea,” John said. “It has to be out there.”

Carter said the tribe is lucky that CN Medical Director Gloria Grim supports the breastfeeding movement.

“The Cherokee Nation allows its employee who are working mothers the appropriate time and a safe place to support the mother’s choice to breastfeed their baby, which mirrors the government’s guidelines on breastfeeding,” Grim said in an emailed statement. “We continually work to educate expecting mothers on the importance of breastfeeding and the health benefits to their baby. With the new lactation center, we provide mothers with a relaxing environment so they remain committed to breastfeeding their child. We have dedicated space in some Cherokee Nation health centers and hope to implement more in other facilities.” • 918-207-3825


12/15/2014 11:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Oklahoma Blood Institute will visit the Cherokee Nation on Dec. 16 for Donor Appreciation Day. The day will include door prizes, lunch and blood donation. The blood drive will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the CN’s Ballroom behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees. There will also be a “treasure chest” from which for donors to choose an appreciation item. Donors will also be able to receive free health screenings and donor reward points, which can be redeemed at the OBI’s online store. “We’re blessed to be surrounded by giving people who respond when they know of a need,” President and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute John Armitage said. “The gift of blood is a priceless one. It’s difficult to think of anything more important that we personally can do.” According to the OBI, the OBI is the ninth largest blood center in American and is the exclusive blood provider to patients at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital and Northeastern Health System. Approximately 140 medical facilities also receive blood from the OBI.
12/03/2014 08:08 AM
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – American Indian and Alaska Native children are exposed to violence at rates higher than any other social group in the nation, according to a new report that urges creation of a new Native American affairs office, additional federal funding and other measures to combat the problem. The report released Tuesday by a U.S. Department of Justice advisory committee reflects information gathered at public hearings across the country in 2013 and 2014. “We discovered something we’d known when we started – that this is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed,” committee co-chair and former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said during a teleconference. Based on the public input and research, the committee assessed the effects of violence on tribal youth and came up with an action plan. The report’s goal is to be a catalyst for action by Congress and the Obama administration, said Dorgan, who served as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee until his retirement in 2010. “State and federal governments must recognize and respect the primacy of tribal governments,” the report said. According to the report, exposure to violence results in American Indian and Alaska Native children experiencing post-traumatic stress at three times the rate of the non-Native population. The task force compared the level of stress to that of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The study says 75 percent of deaths among indigenous children between the ages of 12 and 20 are caused by violence, including homicides and suicides. Alaska Native children were singled out as having the worst conditions systemically for various reasons including Alaska’s vastness, remoteness and steep transportation costs, along with a lack of respect for tribal sovereignty. Among recommendations specific to the state, the report urges that more sovereignty be granted to Alaska Native tribes. Currently the only reservation in the state is the community of Metlakatla, in southeast Alaska. A key recommendation in the report is to establish a White House Native American affairs office to coordinate services affecting children, among other things. The committee also said increased mandatory funding and coordination between tribal, federal and state governments are crucial to reversing the trend. The funding process also should be streamlined and less administratively burdensome, task force members said. “We all have to come together to make this work,” said committee member Valerie Davidson, with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Dorgan said it’s difficult to predict how such recommendations as creating a new office to deal with the problem will be received in the new Republican-led Congress. “I think the series of recommendations in this report about children exposed to violence and about the help that we need to provide for these children will fall on the ears of Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “They must care about children.” The recommendations are a step forward in helping Native American children receive opportunities to succeed, said U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat and member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Native children dealing with the dire effects of exposure to violence has truly reached pandemic levels – and it requires our immediate attention,” Heitkamp said in a statement.
11/27/2014 02:00 PM
ROCKVILLE, Md. – Officials with the Indian Health Service Bemidji Area recently determined that a physician employed by a staffing IHS contracted company had improperly accessed protected health information from three IHS facilities. The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The three facilities include the Fort Yates Service Unit in the IHS Great Plains Area, the Cass Lake Service Unit in the IHS Bemidji Area and the Crow Service Unit in the IHS Billings Area. The data breach included patient names, Social Security numbers and health information such as diagnoses, prescribed medications and laboratory results. However, there is no current indication that the information has been used by or disclosed to any unauthorized individuals. “IHS is very disappointed that this breach occurred given that the staffing company contract included the requirement that contract providers must protect patient privacy and meet HIPAA regulations. We are committed to ensuring the security and integrity of all our patients’ personal information and are putting additional protections in place” said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, acting IHS director. “Keeping patient information secure is of the utmost importance to us and we very much regret that this situation occurred.” The IHS contract at issue contained the requirement that contractors must protect patient privacy and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and its implementing regulations. Even though these protections were required as a part of the staffing company’s contract with IHS, the contract provider improperly accessed these records. In accordance with regulations implementing HIPAA, on Oct. 17 the IHS has notified all persons whose information was improperly accessed. The Area HIPAA Coordinators have completed an investigation and the matter has been referred for appropriate action in accordance with HIPAA and its implementing regulations. Patients who received the letter and have any questions can contact the following Area HIPAA coordinators: • Cass Lake Service Unit in the IHS Bemidji Area – Phillip Talamasy at 218-444-0538 or email <a href="mailto:"></a> • Fort Yates Service Unit in the IHS Great Plains Area – Heather H. McClane at 605-226-7730 or email <a href="mailto:"></a> • Crow Service Unit in the IHS Billings Area- Felicia Blackhoop at 406-247-7184 or email <a href="mailto:"></a>
11/27/2014 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently awarded $3.9 million for outreach and enrollment efforts targeted at American Indian and Alaska Native children who are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. The awarded money from the grant will go towards funding activities that are designed to engage schools and tribes in Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment efforts. CMS awarded grant funds to health programs that are operated by tribes, tribal organizations, Indian Health Services and urban Indian organizations located in Oklahoma, California, Arizona, Alaska and New Mexico. “We are very pleased to support efforts that help eligible American Indian and Alaska Native children gain access to affordable health coverage,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CHIP Services Director Cindy Mann. “More people with health coverage also benefits local health care facilities, allowing them to offer more services and improve health care for the whole community.” Grantees will organize activities that are focused on helping eligible teens enroll for coverage and ultimately ensure that eligible children maintain coverage for as long as they qualify. These awards ensure that Native American and Alaska Native children will be given the opportunities to receive quality health care services. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
11/27/2014 08:00 AM
JAY, Okla. – Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials on Nov. 19 celebrated the topping out of the tribe’s new health center in Delaware County, which is still under construction. “Access to quality health care is the most important issue facing our people. We made a strategic investment to ensure Cherokee citizens would have every opportunity to receive the kind of world-class health care they deserve,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The expanded space, coupled with new state-of-the-art equipment, allows us to deliver better and faster care to more people.” The health center will be 42,00 square feet and is expected to cost approximately $13.5 million. It will have services such as behavioral health, contract health, dental, diabetes care, laboratory, nutrition, optometry, pharmacy with mail order, physical therapy services, primary care, public health nursing, radiology and Women, Infants and Children. According to a CNB press release, the original Sam Hider Health Center was opened in 1989, which makes it one of the oldest health centers in the tribe’s health care system. Approximately 100 people are employed in the existing 26,000-square-foot facility. In 2013, that facility served more than 80,000 patient visits. “It was time for a new health center,” Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said. “Health care is important to the Cherokee people, and I am grateful we are able to make this investment for the citizens.” The new Sam Hider Health Center is one of four health centers under construction with the help of CNB, which provided funds of more than $100 million. “This new health center is something that Cherokees will take pride in for years,” Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said. “This has been a dream for a long time, and I couldn’t be more pleased that local citizens will have access to improved health facilities.”
11/18/2014 10:13 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Oklahoma Breast Care Center’s Mobile Mammogram Unit will be making a stop on Dec. 11 at the Cherokee Nation’s Gadugi Health Center. The mammogram screening is available to CN employees who carry insurance. The MMU is a service that is provided in an RV-type vehicle that has a mammogram machine where women can get their mammogram done without having to travel far distances. When receiving a mammogram it is important to wear a two-piece outfit so it is easy to undress from the waist up. It is also recommended to not wear deodorant or powder because is can show up on the scan. For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call 918-207-4911 or email <a href="mailto:"></a>.