Cherokee Nation administration officials, Tribal Councilors and AMO Salina Health Center employees gather April 28 for the opening of the tribe’s dental clinic in Salina, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Dental clinic offers shorter travel for citizens

Stefan Hacker, Cherokee Nation dental director, speaks during the April 28 opening ceremony of the tribe’s dental clinic in Salina, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Melissa Gower, Cherokee Nation Health Services group leader, speaks at an April 28 ceremony opening the tribe’s dental clinic in Salina, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Stefan Hacker, Cherokee Nation dental director, speaks during the April 28 opening ceremony of the tribe’s dental clinic in Salina, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
05/09/2011 06:47 AM
SALINA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation celebrated the opening of its new dental clinic April 28 at AMO Health Center. The clinic will allow patients living in the area to receive dental care without having to travel long distances.

CN citizen Billie Ann Dry said she lives approximately 8-1/2 miles east of Salina and having the new clinic would help her family battle rising gas prices.

“It’s just a 15 minute drive from the house to here (AMO Health Center),” she said.

Dry said before the clinic, she and family members traveled to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah for dental care.

“It was an hour’s drive over there,” she said.

According to CN Communications, the new facility brings additional staff and features eight patient chairs, electronic records and digital radiology for x-rays. Also, the recent construction made space for administrative offices, behavioral health services and a community room.

Stefan Hacker, CN dental director, said the grand opening of the clinic and community center has “definitely been a project we’ve been working on for a long period of time and it’s nice to see it come to fruition.”

Allen Summerlin, dental clinic supervisor and dentist, said his job would consist of managing the staff of assistants, hygienists and dentists, as well as performing dental services.

“At the Salina dental clinic, services will include exams, cleanings, operative treatment such as fillings, root canals, extractions and denture care as well,” he said.

He added that patients seeking dental care should call for an appointment, but if they have an emergency they can be seen as a walk-in.

“Walk-ins are available…basically what we are going to try to do is accommodate patients throughout the day,” he said. “We don’t want to put a time limit on it, but you know, we’re here to provide a service and we’re going to do our best to do that.”

The clinic has three dentists, a hygienist, eight assistants, one supervisor and two clerical positions.

The AMO Salina Health Center opened in 1996. William Smoke, who was a Tribal Councilor when the dental clinic legislation was approved, said the health center was built with a space for a dental clinic.

“Wilma Mankiller was in on plans for the dental clinic when the Salina Clinic was first built. For a while it was empty. There wasn’t anything but gravel in there on the floor. We tried back then (to get the dental clinic), but we never could get it,” he said.

He said the health center opening helped a lot of people in the area and that the dental clinic would build on that.

“A lot people get help down there. My sister goes there and plans to get her teeth worked on there. There’s a lot of people that can’t make it to Tahlequah for dental, so it’s good for the whole area,” he said.

According to the tribe, the AMO Salina Health Center had nearly 58,000 visits and that the dental clinics throughout the CN health system had more than 45,000 patient visits this past year.

jami-custer@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
jami-murphy@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

Health

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
08/07/2015 08:24 AM
STILWELL, Okla. – When a health professional is beloved or highly regarded it is difficult to see them retire. Such was the case with nurse practitioner Vickie Love, who recently retired from the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center. Her assistant nurse, Victorian Scott, said Love’s patients have been consistently bringing her gifts when they learned of her retirement. Patients brought everything from a picture frame to candy, Scott said. “The way she works with patients, she shows people how you should treat them. She’ll drop what she’s doing to see a patient,” Scott, a licensed practical nurse who has worked with Love for 18 months, said. Scott said she was reluctant to work in women’s health when she got to the health center, but now it’s a “passion” of hers after working with Love. “She’s kind-hearted. When she’s doing her exams, she puts herself in that female’s position, so she’ll talk them through it,” she said. “She’s been a great teacher. I’ve learned so much from her.” Scott said. Love, 58, has been serving the Cherokee people as a nurse practitioner at WPMHC for more than 22 years. “I love my job. I love doing this,” she said. Love said she would miss the staff members who are like her family. “I think maybe it’s because we were in this clinic and it’s so small. Every department is right here, so you interact with everybody, and we’re here with the same group of people all day, so you’ve got to make the best of it. You’ve got to live with people,” she said. “It’s a good place to work, and it makes me sad they can’t get physicians to come here. They don’t know how good it is here. It does take a special doc to come in here because not everybody can take care of Native people.” She and her husband Chuck, who recently retired from W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, live in Pettit Bay southeast of Tahlequah. The couple recently purchased a recreational vehicle and was set to take their first trip in it at the end of July to visit their daughter Socia, who is in her last year of residency in Seattle. “She’s going to make me a grandma, so to help her in her last year of residency, we’re going to go up and help take care of baby so she doesn’t miss any time,” she said. Love grew up in Wichita, Kansas, but her Cherokee mother is from Eucha and her Muscogee (Creek) father is from Bristow. “Every weekend and every summer we were in Oklahoma, so Oklahoma is second-nature,” she said. She began her career in 1985 at Hastings Hospital as a nurse and a med surgeon in the intensive care unit. Later, she signed up through the Indian Health Service Area Office to attend school to be a nurse practitioner. “I didn’t even know what a nurse practitioner was then, and there were no nurse practitioner colleges in Oklahoma at all. It was a new concept. I knew to make rank (in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps) you had to have a master’s, and that was going to be a master’s program, so I signed up for it,” she said. She won a scholarship to attend nurse practitioner school at the University of Texas in Arlington and began her studies in 1989 and graduated in 1991. The IHS scholarship included a two-year payback period for students to pay back the IHS school loan. “I was always hoping I could go to school and come back here to Hastings. I didn’t get Hastings. I got sent out to Clinton, and I cried all the way,” she said. “I tell you, it was one of the best experiences I could have had. Back here they didn’t know what to do with us because it (nurse practitioner) was a new concept. When I got out there they were kind of feeling it out, too, but I was treated like I was a nurse practitioner out there. There was great group of doctors, and I learned so much from them.” She said when she went to Clinton, then-Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller was upset Love did not get posted at Hastings. She said Mankiller called the area office to get her posted in Tahlequah, but it was too late. She said the chief asked her to tell her when her payback was complete. When it was complete two years later, Mankiller advocated for Love to be posted near home. She was posted at the Nation’s Stilwell Clinic, which back then was in a trailer near the Stilwell City Hospital. In 1994, a new CN clinic opened in Stilwell named after Mankiller, and Love began a 21-year relationship with patients and staff there. She served with five different principal chiefs, and after beginning her career as an ensign, Love retired as a captain in the USPHS. She said during the past 22 years one thing was consistent in her job and that was the time she spent with patients. She said she might have known more about some of her patients than their families because she took that extra time with them when they came in for treatment. “I like spending time with my patients and not being on that time constraint, so what I’ve always done with my time is that I spend that time with them, and then after 5 o’clock I chart (update patient charts), and I could be here 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock at night trying to finish,” she said. “I don’t know how I would do with their new concept. I’m hearing there are 10-minute visits. It might be a good time for me to get out because that would be difficult for me.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/04/2015 12:00 PM
COOKSON, Okla. – There will be two Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drives in Cherokee County this August. The first blood drive will be from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 10 at the Cookson Methodist Church located at 21685 W. Cookson Bend Road. in Cookson. The second blood drive will be from at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the Cherokee Nation Tsa-La-Gi Room behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees on the Tribal Complex. Blood donors will receive a donor T-shirt for their contributions. Donors will also receive a voucher for two free admissions to the Tulsa Zoo. Donating blood takes approximately an hour. A photo identification is required to donate at OBI blood drives. Donors must be 16 years old or older. Participants who are 16 years old must provide a signed parental permission form and weigh in at 125 pounds or more to donate, those who are 17 years old must weigh in at 125 pounds or more and those 18 and older must weigh in at 110 pounds or more to donate. The OBI provides all donated blood to W.W. Hastings Hospital, Northeastern Health System and to approximately 158 other medical facilities statewide.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
06/29/2015 12:58 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified results, the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 1 Tribal Council seat goes to Rex Jordan after he defeated Ryan Sierra in the June 27 general election. Certified results show Jordan won by a vote count of 856 to Sierra’s 494 votes. Jordan received 63.41 percent of the ballots cast while Sierra received 36.59 percent. The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to contact Jordan but was unsuccessful. In a Facebook post, Sierra expressed his gratitude to those who supported him during his campaign. “I must first praise God for giving my family and me this opportunity. He is still in control no matter what,” he wrote. “The numbers are in and we did not gain enough votes to serve as councilman for district one. I want to thank each and every person who showed us support and gave us your vote. You are appreciated! I will continue to serve within my community and in anyway God sees fit. Best wishes to Rex Jordan. Serve the people well.” Dist. 1 covers the western part of Cherokee County and a portion of eastern Wagoner County. The EC certified the results from the general election on June 29. Jordan is expected to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, which is the tribe’s inauguration day.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/22/2015 12:34 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – To promote health and wellness among American Indians, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic will host its annual “Walk for Wellness” and health fair from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on June 27 at Remington Park, 100 Remington Park. The event is free and open to the public. “Our staff members are dedicated to helping American Indians prevent and manage diabetes and pre-diabetes, and this walk and health fair helps promote those ideals,” Robyn Sunday-Allen, CEO of OKCIC, said. “Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the first steps to changing the health risks that affect American Indians. The walk will provide attendees with valuable information on staying healthy while enjoying a fun, family-friendly environment.” The health fair will provide attendees with information on a range of clinic services, including medical, dental, prenatal, pediatric, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, family programs and behavioral health services. The one-mile fun walk begins at 9 a.m. Registration is available the day of the event, or participants can pre-register at <a href=" www.okcic.com/events/walk-for-wellness-2015/" target="_blank"> www.okcic.com/events/walk-for-wellness-2015/</a>. For more information about the walk or the clinic, visit <a href="http://www.okcic.com" target="_blank">www.okcic.com</a>. Providing a wide range of outpatient health care services to more than 20,000 American Indians in the Oklahoma City area each year, OKCIC is a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving the lives of not only their patients, but the general public as well. American Indians are at a higher risk for certain health issues, including childhood obesity and diabetes, and are more than two times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to other ethnic groups, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/18/2015 10:00 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will be sponsoring a Veterans Affairs Enrollment Fair from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on June 25 in the large conference room at the hospital. The fair is meant to assist Native American veteran patients in applying for health care services they are eligible for through the VA. Claremore Indian Hospital benefit coordinators, VA representatives and the Decorated American Veterans group will be on hand to assist with the application process. Veterans attending should bring their financial information (income and resource information) and their DD-214 military discharge papers. Veterans already enrolled for health care services through the VA should call 918-342-6240 or 918-342-6507 so that their files may be updated.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/10/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – To settle a complaint filed in 2008 by the Laborer’s International Union of North America, Indian Health Service has agreed to pay $80 million for allegedly forcing employees overtime without pay. The 2008 complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by LIUNA on behalf of 10,000 IHS employees at clinics and hospitals in Indian Country. The IHS agency operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In a May letter written to tribal leaders, IHS acting director Robert G. McSwain stated that it’s important that IHS employees are properly compensated. “We believe that settling these claims now is right, the appropriate step, and the most fiscally responsible action,” he said. “This settlement allows us to avoid future litigation costs and the possibility of future awards totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. It will allow us to continue to focus our attentions going forward on the important task of serving Indian Country health needs.” In the original complaint, LIUNA claimed IHS did not allow its employees the right to option for overtime pay instead of compensatory time off, failed to compensate employees for their travel time and for off the clock employment. “This is a great victory for Indian Health Service employees,” said Terry O’Sullivan, LIUNA general president. “It took many years of hard work for the union to recover millions of dollars and achieve a fair solution for the mostly Native American workforce who has labored long and tirelessly to provide health services to Native people.”