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
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.