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
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.
ATLANTA, Ga. – Community-based and individual-level prevention strategies are effective ways to reduce alcohol use among American Indian and other youth living in rural communities, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse also provided support for the study.
“This important study underscores our commitment to finding evidence-based solutions for alcohol problems in American Indian and other underserved populations,” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob “This study is one of the largest alcohol prevention trials ever conducted with an American Indian population, and the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of screening and brief counseling intervention in significantly reducing youth alcohol use at a community level.”
Although American Indian teens drink at rates similar to other United States teens, they have early onset alcohol use compared to other groups and higher rates of alcohol problems. Rural youths, including those who are a racial minority relative to their community, are also at increased risk for alcohol misuse. Early prevention is critical in these populations, but both American Indians and rural communities have been underrepresented in studies aimed at finding effective solutions for underage drinking.
To address this gap, researchers led by Kelli A. Komro of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta worked with the Cherokee Nation, the second-largest tribe in the U.S., to implement a rigorous research trial of two distinct strategies to reduce underage drinking and its consequences.
Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol is a community-organizing intervention designed to reduce alcohol access, use and consequences among underage youths. The second strategy, called CONNECT, is an individually delivered screening and brief intervention delivered in schools. The study was conducted within the 14 counties of northeastern Oklahoma that comprise the CN jurisdictional area, which is home to about 40 percent of the tribe. While CN citizens constitute a significant proportion of the population, whites and other racial/ethnic minorities also live within this area. Results of the trial are reported in the March 2017 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
“Community organizing has been used effectively in multiple other health intervention trials and appeared to be an optimal strategy to engage diverse citizens in these multicultural communities,” explained Dr. Komro. CMCA involves training teams of adults to implement policies and take actions to reduce youth access to alcohol through social and commercial sources. In the school-based intervention, a school social worker conducts a brief one-on-one health consultation with each student each semester to encourage healthy behavior change related to alcohol consumption. Students who report high risk drinking attend follow-up sessions and are referred to specialty treatment when appropriate.
Six communities, each served by a single high school, participated in the study. The student population in these communities was nearly 50 percent American Indian. The study population consisted of students who were in ninth or 10th grade when the study began and followed over three years through 11th or 12th grade.
By random assignment, students in two communities received both the community-organizing intervention and the individually delivered intervention. Students in two different communities served as controls, and received neither intervention. One of the remaining two communities used only the community-organizing intervention while the other used only the school-based individually administered intervention.
Over the course of the study, researchers found that self-reports of alcohol use, including any use and heavy drinking episodes (five or more drinks on at least one occasion) in the past 30 days, was significantly reduced among students receiving either or both interventions, compared with students in the control communities.
“The two distinct interventions alone and in combination resulted in similar patterns of effect across time,” said Komro, “but, interestingly, we found no evidence that the two interventions combined had significantly greater effects than either alone.”
Komro and her colleagues conclude that, while alcohol use among high school students remains a serious public health problem, and rural and American Indian youths are particularly vulnerable populations, the specific community and school-based interventions they examined are effective approaches for addressing alcohol problems in these diverse communities.
Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at: <a href="http://www.niaaa.nih.gov" target="_blank">http://www.niaaa.nih.gov</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Former Cherokee Nation employee Gary McAlpin returned home on March 10 with his family and son, Kai, who’s been battling cancer since May. Gary has pleaded with citizens locally and across the United States to fight for more children’s cancer research and treatment funding.
Kai, who has been dubbed “Warrior Kai,” suffers from a rare cancer call T-Cell Leukemia. According to Gary’s Facebook page, he said he and his family have knocked on all the hospital doors available to them for Kai, but none would take him due to the complexity of his condition.
And after battling for so long and watching his son’s pain daily, they chose to take Kai home.
“Where Kai will continue to have the same medical care, but with hospice. He will have the same pain management and fluids being given,” Gary stated on Facebook.
During the past year, while attempting to stay positive about his son’s diagnosis, Gary has pleaded with people to pressure the country’s leaders into offering more funding for childhood cancers.
“The main thing that I’m asking from people is to contact their state legislatures and our federal senators and congressman and demand that our children get more than 4 percent of what is given to cancer research, treatment and funding,” he said. “Adults receive almost 96 percent and all of our children, all they receive are hand-me-down chemos from adults. That’s all they get.”
He added that he is on this “mission” and no matter Kai’s outcome he will “go to the grave” fighting for the funding to be equal for children and adult cancer treatments.
“I’m going to die fighting because our children are more precious than the subsidies that go to oil company CEOs. Our children are more precious than the kickback given to pharmaceutical companies that only fund the most money-making research, which is why the children only receive 4 percent and our children are worth more than that.”
Gary said he has watched Kai suffer, listening to his screaming for hours because his pain is so intense. He knows he is not the only child suffering.
“There’s others up here, too. And like I said no matter what happens to him I will go to the grave pushing this,” he said. “Call your senators. Call your congressman. Call your state level (officials).”
Gary and his family said they are thankful for all the support they’ve received during the past year and for the support that continues. They ask for thoughts and prayers as they continue on Kai’s journey.
For more information on how to help the family, visit <a href="https://www.facebook.com/WarriorKaiMcalpin/?hc_ref=SEARCH" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/WarriorKaiMcalpin/?hc_ref=SEARCH</a> or donate to the Kai McAlpin Arvest Cares account at any Arvest Bank location or online at www.gofundme.com/KaiMcAlpin.
<strong>Oklahoma’s State and National Legislators</strong>
Senator James Lankford: 202-224-5754
Senator James M. Inhofe: 202-224-4721
Rep. Mark Wayne Mullin: 202-225-2701
State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton: 405-521-5533
State Rep. Matt Meredith: 405-557-7408
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – While eating healthy is a major component to weight loss and leading a healthy life, exercise also plays a role in taking on a well-rounded lifestyle change.
Brandon Goad, a physical activity specialist at the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center, said people who are looking to begin exercising should speak with “fitness professionals.”
“I would suggest come into a facility like we have, or anywhere where they have fitness professionals, and get some advice,” he said.
Goad said when beginning an exercise program people should exercise two to three times a week.
“Your body will kind of tell you if you need to be in the gym or if you don’t. If you’re extremely sore and you can’t move it’s probably not going to benefit you to show up and do more exercise on top of that. I’d probably be more beneficial to stay at home or come up here and walk and then maybe do some stretching and some mobility exercises,” he said.
He said the MSRC offers various classes, and that it’s a good way to start one’s physical fitness journey. “The really good thing with that is I can kind of guide them along the way and coach them and train them and see them every day.”
Goad said people who attend MSRC classes vary in fitness level and age, but trainers make sure people are working at paces that are best for them.
“I have people in all ranges of fitness levels that come to our gym or come to my classes. I have (people) anywhere from maybe still in high school to, I have a 73-year-old woman in one of my classes,” he said. “I have one gentleman that has two replaced knees, and he can’t do all the movements, but a lot of them we can scale back and tailor to him. I have another gentleman that started with me doing personal trainings, but now we’ve got him to the class setting. He was 400 pounds when he started and he’s about 340, and we’re still working on improving that.”
Goad said it’s great for people to attend classes because it builds a “good community” as well as “accountability.”
“The really good thing with our classes is that we have a lot of people. So we may have anywhere from 10 to 20 per class, and it really builds a good community. The community aspect really helps keep people coming in. You meet a few friends or you show up for a little while and people start expecting you to be here,” Goad said. “So if you don’t show up for a week they’re going to contact you on Facebook or if they have your number call you and say, ‘hey, where’ve you been?’ Checking to see if you’re sick or what’s going on. So it really has a good accountability.”
He added that if people would rather exercise at home he suggests starting out on what he calls “functional exercises.”
“They’re exercises that you’re going to do basically in your everyday life,” he said. “So squatting, deadlifting, pressing, push-ups, sit-ups, all your more functional stuff to where your body is doing the work and not the machine.”
He said when it comes to weight loss to not expect “overnight” success.
“Don’t expect it all to happen overnight,” he said. “You don’t become out of shape or overweight in a week, or a month. So it’s not going to happen the same. It’s not going to come off in a month so you got to give it time and stick with it.”
Goad said he doesn’t focus on weight loss as a number but if one’s clothes are fitting better.
“If your pants aren’t fitting quite as tight, if you ever move down a pant size or your shirts are fitting better that’s a lot better goal then what’s on the scale because your weight will fluctuate,” he said.
He said if people would like to monitor their weight loss by the pounds it’s best to weigh-in once a week. He said it’s also good to track progress by taking photos.
“Maybe if you weigh…once a week and take a progress picture,” he said. “I would rather you do that because I just had a woman in class, she’s been coming for almost a year, and it’s one of those things where you really can’t tell a lot of changes every day because you’re seeing yourself every day. You really can’t tell a change, but if you see yourself from a month ago and you compare the pictures. It’s a huge difference.”
<strong>Male Seminary Recreation Center hours</strong>
Monday through Thursday – 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday – 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 918-453-5496. The MSRC is located at 1501 Graham Ave. in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The MSRC offers classes seven days a week with a majority of the classes taking place Monday through Friday. For an updated list, visit <a href="http://cherokeepublichealth.org/msrc-gym/" target="_blank">http://cherokeepublichealth.org/msrc-gym/</a> and click on the “Group Fitness Classes” tab on the right side of the page.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Whether its eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, Larissa Hancock, a registered dietitian at W.W. Hasting’s Hospital, said meal planning and preparation are keys to making a healthy lifestyle change.
“I think one of the main things about healthy eating is actually taking some time to do your planning,” she said. “Healthy eating starts at the grocery store. So when we are in a hurry or we’re just trying to come up with something quick it’s so much easier to make those convenience choices. Anything you bring in your house from the grocery store, that’s what you’re going to eat.”
She said a good way to meal plan is to make a menu and stick to it.
“If you sit down on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and just say ‘this is what I’m going to make this week,’ and you shop for those ingredients that you need for those things, then it’s easier to stick to that plan than if we’re just kind of flying through each day,” she said. “Then spend some time doing some meal prep. Do your meal prep and have breakfast ready for each morning of the week, or same thing for lunch.”
Hancock said stick with lean meats when shopping.
“Anything that is some type of loin, sirloin, tenderloin, those are definitely going to be the leaner cuts than say your pork and beef. With chicken, obviously the chicken breast is a good choice. If you want to switch it up a little bit, chicken thighs without the skin are a good way to go to. It’s a little bit of a medium fat meat instead of a lean,” she said.
She added that it’s also important to do a majority of shopping along the store’s perimeter.
“One thing in general about the grocery store is if you shop the perimeter of the grocery store, all of that food goes bad because it’s all refrigerated, and it’s all the produce and the meat. It’s the aisles where you get into all the preserved, kind of junky foods. Of course there are some things that are necessary in the middle but as a general rule of thumb…real foods go bad.”
She said when filling a plate it is important to get a balance of foods.
“Making sure that we are choosing those lean meats, the healthy starches. It’s really just being mindful about looking at that plate and saying, ‘do I have a good balance? Is there a lot of color here?’ If everything’s the same color it’s probably not very well-balanced,” she said.
Hancock said watching serving sizes is also important especially for meals that include pasta.
“Read your labels and look at your packaging and see how much is a serving and actually take your measuring cups and measure those out,” she said. “It’s not that we can’t have those foods, we just can’t always eat as much as we would like.”
Hancock said it’s also important to not skip meals because it’s not “healthy” for the body’s organs.
“I get people who do that all the time, where it’ll be, ‘I only eat once a day and I’ve lost like 10 pounds.’ Well yes, but you can’t do that for the rest of your life. It’s not healthy for your organs. It’s not healthy for your body to be starved. The best thing that you can do is give it the fuel it needs to keep your metabolism running the best that it can. We do that by eating,” she said. “Small amounts of food more often are typically a lot better than say two or three large meals a day.”
Hancock said when people are trying to get healthy they need to realize that it takes time.
“We didn’t get here overnight, and it takes time to get to where we need to be. Healthy weight loss consists of about one to two pounds a week. So anything that’s telling you that we’re going to lose 20 pounds in two weeks, or 10 days, is most likely water weight, which means it’s going to come back. So the best thing that we can do is look at it as a lifestyle change approach rather than a diet,” she said. “Just work on eating healthier, not just to lose weight but to be healthy and have our labs (laboratory test results) where they need to be and things that really count toward our health. Skinny doesn’t equal healthy.”
Hancock said weight loss and becoming healthy doesn’t have to be about “cutting out” certain foods but about creating a “balance.”
“It’s not about cutting out any foods, it’s just about creating a balance and making sure that we’re well-rounded. We’re all going to have our days where we don’t make the best choices, just don’t do it everyday,” she said.
For more tips on healthy eating, visit <a href="http://www.choosemyplate.gov" target="_blank">choosemyplate.gov</a>.
<strong>Berry Delicious Parfait
6-ounce Blue Bunny 85 fruit yogurt container
1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
1/2 cup blueberries
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Mix well.
3. Let set for about 5-10 minutes. Enjoy.
Serving per recipe: 2
Serving size: 1/2 of recipe
Calories per serving: 80
Total fat: 0 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 125 g
Total Carbohydrate: 21 g
Dietary Fiber: 8 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 5 g
Daily value of Vitamin C: 10 percent
Daily value of Calcium: 10 percent
Daily value of Iron: 15 percent
<strong>Crock-Pot BBQ Chicken
1 small whole chicken
2 onions, sliced
1-1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1: Put chicken in Crock-Pot with onions on top and add the barbecue sauce. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
2: Drain off fat and serve.
Serving per recipe: 4
Serving size: 1/4 of recipe
Calories per serving: 352
Total fat: 13 g
Saturated fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 108 mg
Sodium: 865 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 20 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 11 g
Protein: 36 g
Daily value of Vitamin A: 2 percent
Daily value of Vitamin C: 19 percent
Daily value of Calcium: 5 percent
Daily value of Iron: 14 percent
Steamed red potatoes tossed with a little garlic butter
Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, radishes
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials – along with representatives from state, federal and local governments – broke ground Feb. 17 on a 469,000-square-foot addition at the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus.
According to a CN Communications press release, the facility will be four stories tall and feature 180 exam rooms with access to a MRI machine; 10 new cardiac, lung and kidney specialists; and an ambulatory surgery center.
“The facility is the outcome of the largest IHS-joint venture agreement ever between a tribe and the federal government. The Cherokee Nation is paying for the $200 million construction of the health center, while Indian Health Service has agreed to pay an estimated $80 million or more per year for at least 20 years for staffing and operation costs,” the release states.
Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the facility would offer a new level of health care and increase access to services in northeastern Oklahoma.
“On behalf of the Cherokee Nation Health Services staff, I thank (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker, the Tribal Council and Cherokee Nation Businesses for giving us the opportunity to deliver first-class health care to our patients,” Davis said.
The release states the facility will feature five surgical suites and two endoscopy suites inside its ambulatory surgical center. It will also house a specialty clinic and feature 33 dental chairs, six eye exam rooms, three audiology testing booths and diagnostic imaging. There will also be an expansion space for rehabilitation services, behavioral health and a wellness center.
Baker said the facility would be the length of two football fields, 2-1/2 times the size of current Hastings facilities.
“Folks, it’s going to be a game changer, and with our partnership with IHS with it will come $80-plus million dollars a year each and every year to fund the staff to take better care of the Cherokee people,” he said. “We’ve had so many great days in the Cherokee Nation. I do not know of a greater day than today. This is going to make health care not only the best in Indian Country, but our people quite likely will have the best health care in the state of Oklahoma.”
According to the release, when Hastings Hospital was built in 1986, it was built for 100,000 patient visits per year. In 2016, there were nearly 400,000 patients visits with many of them being referred out for specialty services, the release states.
Baker also said more than 850 health care jobs would be created from the expansion. In 2013, CN pledged to use $100 million from CNB casino profits to improve the tribe’s health care.
According to the release, the funds helped to expand Stilwell and Sallisaw health centers and built new health centers in Ochelata and Jay. Upon the expansion’s completion in 2019, the current hospital will serve as the tribe’s in-patient hospital.
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will host an Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 1 in Conference Room 1.
“We will be hosting another ACA Outreach and Enrollment Fair here at Claremore,” Sheila Dishno, patient benefit coordinator, said. “Even though members of federally recognized tribes have a special monthly enrollment status, it is important for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families to learn about their insurance options. Whether it’s purchasing insurance through the Marketplace or qualifying for SoonerCare, knowing that you have quality coverage provides peace of mind.”
Dishno said people who attend the fair should bring their Social Security cards, pay stubs, W-2 forms or wage and tax statements, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer.
Also Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will attend to assist patients with signing up for free-to-low-cost health insurance.
The hospital is located at 101 S. Moore Ave. For more information, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6559 or 918-342-6507.