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.

Election

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.”
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
06/03/2015 12:00 PM
SALLISAW, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation opened its new annex on June 1 at the Redbird Smith Health Center, doubling the size of the center and offering new services including mammography, a drive-thru pharmacy and physical therapy. RSHC Clinic Administrator Jerry Caughman said the opening includes an addition of 30,000 square feet, which makes the campus a total of about 63,000 square feet. “New services that have never been offered here are mammography, which we’re very excited to have. Then also we have physical therapy, which we haven’t been able to offer,” he said. “Our citizens have had to travel to Muskogee, Tahlequah, Stilwell. So it’s a real blessing for our citizens to be able to have this.” The center serves about 10,000 patients a month and the added services should also add new jobs. “So in a year we have approximately 120,000 visits,” he said. “With our additional services we will be adding staff to service those areas. We have approximately 120 employees right now. By the time the expansion and everything is over we’ll probably have close to 140.” Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright, of Sallisaw, who chairs the Tribal Council’s Health Committee, said during the annex’s opening that it was a “happy day.” “I wanna thank all the employees out here that put up with a lot of being crowded and scrunched up in mobile facilities, but it was well worth the wait,” she said. “The doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, housekeeping, people who take care of the grounds – everybody is important out here.” Tribal Councilor David Thornton, of Vian, said the best thing that is instilled in the people who visit the clinic and those who work there is pride. “I’d love to have a big pride sign across here (the entrance of the annex) because it helps our people have pride within their self when they come to work,” he said. “When they come to the doctor and get served, you can’t hardly beat that folks. And these employees that work around here are some of the best.” The tribe completed a $4 million renovation of the center’s main building in 2014, according to CN Communications. The renovation added dental space, a new fitness room, six rooms that double as storm shelters and a large community room available for public use. “The Redbird Smith Health Center expansion is further evidence of the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to provide first-class health care in state-of-the-art facilities,” CN Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said. “Cherokee Nation Health Services wants our citizens treated by the best medical practitioners in the best medical facilities, and we are making that happen under the $100 million health care capital improvement plan. The Cherokee Nation health care system is not only an example of premier quality for Indian Country, but also the entire nation.” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the expansion of services would also allow the tribe to provide more pediatric care, elder care and services specifically for women. “These are the kinds of world-class care options that will improve health care in Sequoyah County for generations of Cherokee families,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/26/2015 04:00 PM
SALLISAW, Okla. – On June 1, Cherokee Nation’s Redbird Smith Health Center will open its expansion at 10 a.m. at 301 S. J.T. Stites Blvd. in Sallisaw. According to Cherokee Nation Communications, the tribe will debut the 30,000-square-foot annex that doubles the size of the health center. “The $10.7 million expansion adds radiology and lab, pediatrics, more outpatient space, optometry and pharmacy with drive thru. The addition also features a built-in community safe room,” according to a CN Communications release. “In 2014, the health center saw nearly 117,000 patient visits and is expected to serve up to 145,000 patient visits with the new services and facility expansion.” The tribe also recently opened the new health center in Ochelata, and are slated to open a new health center in Jay as well as an expansion in Stilwell in June. The event is open to the public and tours will be available after remarks from tribal officials.