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
BY CHRISTINA GOODVOICE
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.”

christina-goodvoice@cherokee.org • 918-207-3825

Health

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/01/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – There will be an Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drive from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 3 at the Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital in the Support Services Conference Room near Urgent Care. Blood donors will receive a donor T-shirt for their contributions. If they chose to reject the shirts, the funds designed for the T-shirt will go to the Global Blood Fund, which is a nonprofit organization that provides safe blood services in developing countries. Donors will also receive free health screenings and donor reward points, which are redeemable online for merchandise and gift certificates. A photo identification is required to donate at OBI blood drives. Participants must be 16 years old or older to donate. Participants who are 16 years old must provide a signed parental permission form and weigh 125 pounds or more to donate. Those who are 17 years old must weigh 125 pounds or more, and those 18 and older must weigh in 110 pounds or more to donate. For more information or to schedule an appointment, email <a href="mailto: tcrites@obi.org">tcrites@obi.org</a> or visit <a href="http://www.obi.org" target="_blank">www.obi.org</a>.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
02/27/2015 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Tyler Moman and his wife Destiny said they were “blessed with two miracles” on Jan. 7 when Rylie Dawn and Haylie Reece – a set of monoamniotic twins – were delivered at 28 weeks and 6 days in gestation at St. John Medical Center. The difference between monoamniotic twins and other twins are that monoamniotic twins share the same amniotic sac and placenta. This means umbilical cords can easily tangle or kink as the twins grow in the womb. Monoamniotic twins are rare and have a 50 percent birth survival rate, Tyler said. Destiny said the twins must be monitored closely because as they grow in the womb they can strangle one another with their umbilical cords. “With mono-mono twins, at 24 weeks they always want to start monitoring you because about 24 weeks is when the babies start getting their growth spurt and start moving around more often, and they want to keep an eye on their heart rates,” she said. “Because the babies’ cords can knot or wrap around each other’s throats and strangle each other or cause harm between the two, which is kind of what started to happened with my two.” Tyler said Destiny started having problems as the babies’ heart rates dropped on Jan. 6 while being monitored at the hospital. The Grove couple welcomed the babies early the next morning. At birth Rylie weighed 3 pounds and Haylie was 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Both babies had to be on oxygen and feeding tubes. Destiny said they were also in isolation early on, monitored every few hours and still have a long way to go but are much improved. Other problems the girls may face is a “slower development of growing.” “At a year old they might look 6 months old or something or a little smaller, but then again there’s been twins that have grown tremendously compared to, you know, most twins,” Destiny said. Both babies have heart murmurs, but Destiny said those are expected with premature babies. Most often murmurs remedy themselves with medication and growth. “Rylie now weighs 4 pounds, 15 ounces. She’s been off oxygen now for 6 days (as of Feb. 9). She still has her VSD (ventricular septal defect – a hole in the wall of the heart between the bottom two chambers) but that’s normal for her. They say hers is so small it might close on its own in her first year,” Destiny said. “So Rylie has knocked out three of her milestones. She can breath on her own, keep her own temperature and is over 4 pounds.” Destiny said Haylie now weighs 4 pounds, 10 ounces, and like her sister, is off the oxygen tube but still uses a feeding tube. “She is keeping her own temperature up also. They both have almost outgrown their preemie clothes. They both have been taken off their Prolacta (human milk-based nutritional product) and are now on a different fortifier that gives them 24 extra calories. My milk gives them only 20 calories…They no longer have a pic line in anymore so no more IV fluids,” she said. “They get a vitamin once a day. They should be off their caffeine soon. They both still have their feeding tubes but they moved them to their noses so they can nipple feed. They will keep those in till they can take 50 percent of their feedings and then they will take them out.” She said the girls are getting better and stronger every day and she cannot wait until they can go home. A Go-Fund Me Crowdsource fund has been established to raise funds to allow Destiny to stay at the hospital, as well as car seats tailored for premature babies. Visit <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/k48zww" target="_blank">www.gofundme.com/k48zww</a> for more information.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/23/2015 09:30 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – While state leaders remain steadfastly opposed to a Medicaid expansion offered under the federal health care law, some of Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized Native American tribes are exploring opportunities for a federal waiver that could mean health insurance for about 40,000 low-income uninsured tribal citizens. Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez said talks are underway about seeking an expansion of the state’s Insure Oklahoma program to include some of the estimated 80,000 Native Americans in Oklahoma without health insurance. Gomez estimated as many as half of those tribal citizens could qualify for the program, depending on where the income threshold is set. Although still conceptual, Gomez said the idea would involve the tribal citizen paying a portion of the health insurance premium, the tribe paying a portion and the federal government paying the largest part. “We’re not looking at tapping into any state revenue, not now or in the future,” Gomez said. “Frankly, if it required any state revenue, I’m not sure we’d even be having this conversation.” Gomez said the proposal was initially discussed the first week of February with tribal representatives, and that he planned to brief members of the Health Care Authority’s governing board during its regular meeting on Feb. 12. Some of the state’s largest tribes, including the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations, are involved in discussions, Gomez said. Insure Oklahoma provides health coverage to about 18,000 low-income Oklahoma residents, mostly through a program in which the cost of premiums are shared by the state (60 percent), the employer (25 percent) and the employee (15 percent). The state portion of the program is funded through a tax on tobacco sales, but a federal waiver that allows the program to operate has only been approved through the end of the year. Gomez said expanding the program to include a tribal option could help ensure the federal waiver continues. Billy James, a 31-year-old University of Oklahoma student and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, said he wants to have health insurance but can’t afford the premiums. “I’m trying to hold out as long as I can,” said James, who is finishing his master’s degree and currently unemployed. “I’m kind of scared about not having insurance, but I’ve got to tough it out a little while longer.” A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, a staunch supporter of the Insure Oklahoma program, said the governor is excited about the potential of a tribal expansion. “We’re particularly excited about the fact that it would not cost the state any tax dollars, which is important as we deal with our current shortfall,” Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said. Currently, there are about 130,000 Native Americans in the state’s Medicaid program, which is about 16 percent of the overall Medicaid population in Oklahoma.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/21/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – Veterans can now track the status of most of their prescriptions online, thanks to an innovative idea by a Department of Veterans Affairs employee. The new 24/7 service allows online tracking for most prescriptions mailed from the VA Mail Order Pharmacy. VA employee Kenneth Siehr, a winner of the President’s 2013 Securing Americans Value and Efficiency Award, recommended the Prescription Tracker server. Siehr’s idea focused on the use of technology as a way to save money and improve the services VA provides to its patients. “Our nation’s veterans deserve a first-class pharmacy and quality customer service as a part of the exceptional health care available from VA,” said Siehr, the national director for Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacies. “It is an honor to be part of serving veterans and to have been recognized for an idea that enhances our services to them.” More than 57,000 Veterans are currently using the service through My HealtheVet, an online feature that allows veterans to partner with their health care team. The number is expected to grow as VA starts to educate veterans about the new feature. Later in February, the tracking feature will include images of the medication that dispensed. Over the next year, a secure messaging alert will be added so that veterans know when a medication was placed in the mail. “VA prescription refill online is an excellent example of how one employee looked at the process of VA prescription tracking through the eyes of our veterans and came up with an idea that better serves veterans,” said Interim Under Secretary for Health Carolyn M. Clancy. “This idea is both innovative and transformative, and it is certainly one, when put into action, improves customer service for America’s veterans.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/21/2015 12:00 PM
SALLISAW, Okla. – To provide a sense of comfort for health care patients and their families, Cherokee Nation officials are adding a second prayer feather sculpture to the landscape at a second CN health facility. In September, Cherokee artists, and father and son, Bill Glass and Demos Glass placed the first of the culturally significant sculptures at the A-Mo Health Center in Salina. Recently, a second sculpture was installed at the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw. “Dad and I wanted to do this symbolic ‘Prayer Feather’ for our clinic in Salina because the staff is very friendly and courteous. We also wanted to do this in loving remembrance of my grandmother Jean Justice Glass, who was a trained Army nurse,” Demos said in a September Phoenix article. “I primarily designed the feather, and he had a ceramics portion in it. The ceramic’s got an inset detail with a nice four (crossed) logs motif. It’s just our symbol for prayer.” The material used was fabricated stainless steel, so it began as a sheet of steel that had to be cut and welded to create the 8-foot, 2-inch tall and 24-inch wide sculptures. Tribal officials hope the sculptures will give patients and their families calmness as they enter health centers. “Our first priority is to better the lives of our citizens by continuing to provide them with excellent health care,” Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said. “We are excited to include these beautiful pieces as part of providing an overall positive experience for our patients.” The hand-constructed, stainless steel sculptures stand more than 8 feet tall. Each sculpture features a unique base. The ceramic base at the A-Mo Health Center represents the creator’s world above and the four logs of the stomp dance fire on earth. “As Cherokee citizens are undergoing health care, displaying this important part of our culture may bring a sense of peace to what they are experiencing. Feathers symbolize strength and are key instruments in traditional Cherokee medicine and healing,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “I am proud that along with world-class health care, our centers are showcasing Cherokee culture and world-class Cherokee artisans like the Glass family.” Funding to procure the sculptures was set aside through renovation and new construction projects. In accordance with tribal law, when the price of a renovation or new construction project exceeds $500,000, 1 percent of the cost is set aside for procurement of Cherokee art. The tribe is also planning to emplace a third prayer feather at Sequoyah Schools.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
02/18/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Recently, tribal officials purchased the Clinic in the Woods and the Cascade property located next to the Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital to help place the tribe’s Behavioral Health services in a more centralized location. One building will be used strictly for the HERO Project, which focuses on children and families, and the other will be directed more toward adult services. The buildings are expected to be open in the spring. For more than 20 years the tribe’s Behavioral Health has offered several programs, including mental health services, substance abuse treatment and community-based programs promoting mental health. “I do think it’s a great program,” Connie Davis, CN Health Services executive director, said. “I’ve had personal experiences with my family who has used the Behavioral Health services and I feel that they have been treated very well and have been very successful.” Behavioral Health also offers programs designed to help prevent substance abuse and other risky behaviors. “They’re counseling services for thousands of potential diagnosis,” Davis said. “Generally the patient population we see is depressive type of disorders and then we see a lot of substance abuse patients have supports groups for their treatment.” Behavioral Health currently has 42 licensed providers at 11 health clinics within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdictional boundaries. They are the Tahlequah Health Living Campus, Hastings Hospital, Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, Bartlesville Health Center, Will Rogers Health Center in Nowata, Sam Hider Health Center in Jay, A-Mo Health Center in Salina, Jack Brown Treatment Center in Tahlequah, Vinita Health Center and Claremore Indian Hospital. Outpatient services include individual and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, relapse prevention, parenting skills for disorders of childhood, psychological testing and crisis intervention. Davis said to be seen at Behavioral Health, one calls the clinic and requests an appointment. “It’s based on what the patient conveys to the receptionist as what their need is,” Davis said. “If they need to see someone that day then we’re seeing same-day emergencies. If they feel like they need to talk to someone immediately then they can transfer the call to a provider there at the clinic or a health center.” Davis added that follow-up appointments vary because it’s an individualized treatment plan and it depends on the patient and his or her needs. If a patient is prescribed medication, a Behavioral Health therapist or a primary care physician refers them. Because psychiatry is a specialty clinic, it allows the Behavioral Health staff to assure that the referrals are appropriate. Primary care physicians are then able to continue medication management. Primary care physicians or Urgent Care may also be able to provide prescriptions. “You have to see someone with prescriptive authority,” Davis said. “In most centers we try to have someone available if not, then you do have to see your primary care provider.” Behavioral Health started Project Launch in 2013, which offers training for practitioners to help circulate programs and provide those services to families in Cherokee communities. One program of Project Launch is a three-day training Triple P-Positive Parenting Program, a parenting and family support system designed to prevent and treat behavioral and emotional problems in children and teenagers. Triple P aims to prevent problems in the family, school and community and to create family environments that encourage children to realize their potential. On Nov. 3, the CN purchased Clinic in the Woods, which is located near Hastings along Boone Street and the Cascade property, which is located near Northeastern Health System Tahlequah and Hastings. For more information, email <a href="mailto: behavioralhealth@cherokee.org">behavioralhealth@cherokee.org</a> or call 918-453-5000 or 1-800-256-0671.