Radiology technician Mandy Tucker explains how the new LOGIQ ultrasound and echo machine works on Nov. 5 at the tribe’s new Vinita Health Center in Vinita, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Vinita Health Center officially opens its doors

Charlie Ferguson, laboratory supervisor, talks about the different equipment available in the new lab, including this machine that’s used to check hemoglobin A1c tests among other blood tests from patients, at the new Vinita Health Center in Vinita, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation Health Services Director Connie Davis discusses the positive impact the Vinita Health Center will have on CN citizens in the area during a Nov. 5 grand opening for the center. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Charlie Ferguson, laboratory supervisor, talks about the different equipment available in the new lab, including this machine that’s used to check hemoglobin A1c tests among other blood tests from patients, at the new Vinita Health Center in Vinita, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
11/13/2012 08:52 AM
VINITA, Okla. – Although it’s been taking patients since Sept. 4, Cherokee Nation officials and area residents gathered on Nov. 5 at the tribe’s new Vinita Health Center for its grand opening.

After remarks from CN officials, people were given tours of the $35 million clinic located at 27371 S. 4410 Road. The 92,000-square-foot facility is equipped for primary care, including a full pharmacy, lab, radiology and dental, as well as optometry services.

According to CN Communications, the previous tribal clinic in Vinita was a 4,000-square-foot facility. However, the new center means more doctors and services offered to the area.

Prior to the event, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the Vinita Health Center’s construction would mean a lot to area CN citizens.

“It puts a clinic in the northeastern portion of the Cherokee Nation,” Baker said. “Since doing the soft opening (on Sept. 4), they’ve added over 500 new charts, and I think it will double and triple the services that we’re able to do up in this part of the Cherokee Nation.”

He added that the facility would take a burden off of CN citizens and other Native Americans who travel long distances to receive health care.

“I think we already found out that people are going to come in from Carthage, Mo., and Joplin, Mo., and from up in Kansas,” he said. “They’re Cherokees, but they haven’t had a facility to come to and now that we got it, I think they’re going to come.”

The grand opening was held in the center’s community gathering space, which can be rented for meetings and family gatherings starting at $25 with a $100 deposit, not including kitchen space.

Health Services Director Connie Davis said the Vinita Health Center’s staff is committed to its patients.

“It’s very clear that the people that are here working are not here for the money because they could make a lot more money driving about 70 miles down the road,” Davis said. “The people here are committed to serving the people and that’s the most important thing. I think that should give you a vote of confidence when you come in here they’re not here because it was a last choice.”

Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. also commended the tribe’s new facility.

“Well it is a wonderful day to be a Cherokee in Vinita, Okla., ” he said. “Cherokees built this community, they’re still building it today.”

CN officials said the new clinic should bring 125 jobs, with more than 90 percent of those hired being Cherokee. They added that the Vinita Health Center is just a beginning to the improvements they plan to make to CN health facilities. In October, the Tribal Council approved a plan to raise about $80 million to expand or replace health centers and the W.W. Hastings Hospital.

Other facilities to be replaced or renovated are the Bartlesville Health Center, Sam Hider Community Health Center in Jay, Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell, Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee and the Jack Brown Center in Tahlequah.

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 STAFF REPORTS
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: leonda-barnett@cherokee.org">leonda-barnett@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/13/2014 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Cherokee Nation health facilities are holding walks to show support for diabetes prevention and treatment. <strong>“Stop Diabetes” T-shirts are available to the first 50 walkers at each walk:</strong> Nov. 14 – noon to1 p.m. at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell Nov. 14 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Salina A-MO Health Center Nov. 14 – 12:05 p.m. at the Vinita Health Center Nov. 19 – 3:15 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Nowata Nov. 20 – 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Markoma Campus in Tahlequah Nov. 20 – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw Nov. 24 – 11 a.m. at the Mayes County Boys & Girls Club in Pryor. For more information on diabetes, visit your health care provider or visit <a href="http://www.diabetes.org" target="_blank">www.diabetes.org</a>.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
10/30/2014 09:01 AM
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Construction Resources is working on four health centers within the tribe’s jurisdiction. Two new health centers are under construction in Jay and Ochelata, and additional space is being added to two of the tribe’s oldest facilities in Sallisaw and Stilwell. The new construction is part of a $104.3 million health care investment, which Cherokee Nation Businesses’ profits is funding. “It is probably one of the most rewarding projects that we’ve ever taken on. It’s not just one clinic, it’s multiple clinics and it’s all for the Cherokee people,” CNCR Executive General Manager Cheryl Cohenour said. “We’re Cherokees building something for the benefit of other Cherokees. It’s a great source of pride for us.” The Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw is near completion as construction crews finish outside areas. The clinic is expected to be ready by the end of the year. The $11 million expansion will add 30,000 square feet to two existing health center buildings located at 301 S. J.T. Stites Blvd. and will include a new drive-through pharmacy, more lab space and physical therapy and mammography services. It will also have more than 25 exam rooms. “What we’re doing is we’re adding on an annex to the existing clinic. Our target date to be ready for medical equipment to come in around the 25th of October,” Cohenour said. The Redbird Smith Health Center was the first Indian health clinic to be constructed “from the ground up” in 1992 under CN management. The 21,945-square-foot health center opened in 1993 and was recently renovated because of mold. Reopened in August after two years of renovations, it now houses dental services, clinic administrative offices, a fitness area and public health nursing. In 2007 an annex building was added adjacent to the original health center. This building is 11,444 square feet and was increased the capacity of the original health center. A new health center for Jay is on schedule for a March completion, Cohenour said. The foundation has been poured and the steel for the walls and roof is in place for the 42,000-square-foot building. The $13.5 million health facility will accommodate services such as primary care; dental; optometry; radiology; behavioral health; public health nursing; pharmacy with mail order; laboratory; nutrition; Women, Infants and Children services; contract health; and diabetes care. The CN also plans to add physical therapy. Cohenour said a new 28,000-square-foot health center in Ochelata should be complete in December. Crews have been working on the interior of the $9 million Cooweescoowee Health Center, which will accommodate services such as primary care, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, pharmacy, a laboratory, contract health, diabetes care and WIC. It will replace an existing 5,000-square-foot health center in Bartlesville, which opened in 2002. Cohenour also said the expansion of the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center is going well. The foundation has been poured for the 28,000-square-foot addition, which should be complete in May. The current 36,000-square-foot clinic is 20 years old and has approximately 135,00 patient visits annually and needs more space as its patient load increases, said tribal officials. The CN operates the largest tribal health system in the United States with 1.2 million patient visits a year. The WPMHC offers primary care, pediatrics, physical therapy, mammography, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, a pharmacy, a laboratory, nutrition assistance, diabetes care and WIC. The design for the new W.W. Hastings Hospital is also complete as CNCR officials prepare to work on the three-story, 155,000-square-foot facility, which will be located on the east side of the current hospital in Tahlequah. “We’re just doing everything we possibly can without turning dirt because we can’t do that (turn dirt) until we hear about the joint venture,” Cohenour said. In August, the Tribal Council approved a request to Indian Health Services to participate in its Joint Venture Construction Program. If approved, IHS would help CNCR construct the $54 million hospital by providing staffing and operations funding for the hospital’s construction. Under the agreement, the CN would purchase equipment and provide the facility’s construction. CN Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the CN would not break ground until it receives word about whether the tribe can participate in the Joint Venture Construction Program. To do so would disqualify the CN from the program. “We feel pretty good about our chances, but the process is not complete yet, so we’re waiting on a decision. That decision will impact what precise date we will begin construction, so until that process is complete, which we expect to be completed this year, we just can’t specify a date,” CN Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. The IHS is authorized to establish Joint Venture Construction Program projects with tribes for the construction of health care facilities as long as tribes spend tribal funds or other non-IHS funds, including loan guarantees, for the construction of a tribally owned health care facility. In exchange, for a minimum of 20 years, the IHS agrees to lease the health facility and land under a no-cost lease and provide the equipment, supplies and staffing for the operation and maintenance of the health facility.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/27/2014 09:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation will host the grand opening ceremony of the new Jack Brown Center at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 27 at 1413 Missionary Circle near the Male Seminary Recreation Center off Fourth Street. According to a release, the treatment center helps Native youth overcome drug and alcohol addiction. “It’s one of only 10 centers of its kind in the country. The former Jack Brown Center was located in a 1930s era facility on the Sequoyah Schools campus. The new center is a 28,000-square-foot farmstead architecture style campus, with five buildings. The expansion allows the center to serve 36 Native youths instead of the previous capacity of 20,” the release states. The campus will have both male and female dorms, a cafeteria and therapy rooms. “An iconic silo, part of the dairy farm on the original property, was kept as part of the design. In its 26 years, the Jack Brown Center has treated more than 1,700 Native youths,” according to the release.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/22/2014 09:23 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation is opening a new $5 million substance abuse treatment center in Tahlequah. Tribal officials will conduct a grand opening Monday for the new Jack Brown Center, which helps treat Native American youth for drug and alcohol addiction. The tribe says the 28,000-square-foot campus includes five buildings and will serve up to 36 clients. The campus features a recreation center, cafeteria, group therapy rooms and male and female dorms.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
10/22/2014 08:09 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Clinical psychologists at the University of Tulsa, along with undergraduate and graduate students, are working to determine whether Native Americans process pain differently than other races. Nearly three years ago, Dr. Jamie Rhudy, associate professor of clinical psychology at TU, and Dr. Joanna Shadlow, applied assistant professor of clinical psychology at TU, became interested in pain processing within Natives after realizing Natives had yet to be thoroughly examined but were shown to have a high prevalence of chronic pain. “We did some digging around (and) we found that hardly anything had been done looking at pain in Native Americans,” Rhudy said. “(Existing studies) were (primarily) epidemiological, meaning that they were studying prevalence rates. There was not much out there in the literature, but what literature there was suggested that Native Americans actually have a higher prevalence of chronic pain and pain in general than any other minority group or the majority white group.” The duo then conducted a pilot study. “We developed a very small study and we conducted (it) over the course of about 18 months and we were able to get about 22 individual Native Americans, both male and female, all pain-free and healthy, and a control group of 20 Caucasians (healthy and pain-free),” he said. “We were surprised to find the Native Americans had lower pain sensitivity. They had higher pain thresholds, higher pain tolerances.” Rhudy said this was opposite of what they predicted, stating that people who are at risk for chronic pain usually have higher pain sensitivity. He added that factors that contribute to chronic pain risk may be different in Native Americans. With hopes of receiving funding and conducting a larger, more in-depth study of the link between Natives and chronic pain, Rhudy said they submitted a grant proposal to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, an institute within the National Institutes of Health that focuses on reducing health disparities in minorities. “The group (NIMHD) believed that this would be a good project to invest their funds in,” said Rhudy. “They gave us funds to do a multi-year project and we’re going to do it (on a) much larger scale.” The project began in August 2013 with equipment purchasing, setting up lab areas and training student researchers. This past March researchers began recruiting participants. The project is funded for four years but Rhudy said he hopes to extend it to a fifth year if funds allow. “We’re targeting 120 Native American and 120 Caucasian controls. The first thing that we want to do is be able to replicate the findings that we found in our first pilot study and (find out) if that’s true the Native American group is less pain sensitive than the Caucasian group,” he said. Individuals partaking in the study must be healthy, currently pain-free, have no history of chronic pain and be 18 years of age or older. Before coming to the TU lab, participants will receive a phone screening to ensure they are qualified. For example, participants cannot be on pain medications. If they do take pain medications the medications must be washed out of their systems before they can participate, Rhudy said. The study involves two days of testing. Each testing day can last between four and six hours. On one testing day sensors are placed on the participants face, hands, torso, top of the head and back of the leg. It generally takes an hour to apply the sensors. “It’s not like when folks come in that they’ll actually be going through four hours of continuous painful stimuli,” he said. “We very thoughtfully tried to arrange the tests in such a way that there are breaks in between them.” The test can occur on back-to-back days or be spread out. The tests are also available on weekends. Those who complete both days of testing receive $200 and those who complete one day receive $100. Rhudy said participants who have to drive more than 30 minutes for testing are reimbursed for mileage. “If the participants are coming in from out of town we reimburse for mileage,” he said. “For people who are coming a really far distance and it’s not feasible for them to come in on two separate days, we actually have money available to put individuals up in a hotel room to stay over night so that we can get them tested in two consecutive days.” The multiple tests include those involving heat, cold water and pressure. He said one stimulus they would test is a controlled heat stimulus conducted with safe and precise equipment. “We deliver heat pulses and then we measure people’s reactions to that both subjectively, like their perception of it, then we measure the body’s (physiological) reaction,” he said. Another stimulus will be cold water. Rhudy said they would have circulating water that they can set at a specific temperature. Rhudy said during one test participants will be asked to place their hand in the water, up to their wrist and to keep it there as long as they can tolerate it. “While their arm is in the water we have them rate, in real time, the pain as it’s evolving,” he said. He said researchers also have a device that applies pressure to the skin to examine how much pressure is needed before the body site becomes painful, a device that dispenses electric stimuli to active nerves known to be involved with pain processing and a device that works with blood flow and requires the participant to wear a blood pressure cuff that squeezes the upper arm and creates a throbbing pain in the forearm muscles. Participants will also view a series of emotional photos that are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. He said electrical stimulations will be delivered to nerves in the ankle during the pictures and researchers can see how reactions in the brain and spinal cord change by the pictures participants are seeing. Participants will also be put through a test to see how their body reacts to pain when tasked with another painful procedure. “The way we do this is we have participants place their arm in the cold circulating water and then we test pain using electric stimulations and heat on a different body part before, during and after having their hand in the cold water,” he said. After conducting the tests, Rhudy said, researches will contact participants and conduct brief assessments to see if any participants have began to develop chronic pain. “We’re going to be checking in with them every six months,” he said. He said this would be a 30-minute assessment regarding the participant’s health, pain and well-being and that no painful tests would be conducted. Rhudy said by conducting the tests and ongoing assessments, researches hope to identify potential risk factors for chronic pain development so they can prevent or possibly reverse chronic pain development. Ultimately, Rhudy said he and other researchers hope to help Native Americans who have high-risk factors for or who live with chronic pain. “We hope that this is going to help thousands of people in the future to be able to keep them from going on to develop chronic pain and maybe even develop interventions for those that do ultimately develop chronic pain, but we can’t know (do) that without doing these types of studies,” he said. For more information, call 918-631-3565 or 918-631-2175.