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
11/27/2014 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently awarded $3.9 million for outreach and enrollment efforts targeted at American Indian and Alaska Native children who are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. The awarded money from the grant will go towards funding activities that are designed to engage schools and tribes in Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment efforts. CMS awarded grant funds to health programs that are operated by tribes, tribal organizations, Indian Health Services and urban Indian organizations located in Oklahoma, California, Arizona, Alaska and New Mexico. “We are very pleased to support efforts that help eligible American Indian and Alaska Native children gain access to affordable health coverage,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CHIP Services Director Cindy Mann. “More people with health coverage also benefits local health care facilities, allowing them to offer more services and improve health care for the whole community.” Grantees will organize activities that are focused on helping eligible teens enroll for coverage and ultimately ensure that eligible children maintain coverage for as long as they qualify. These awards ensure that Native American and Alaska Native children will be given the opportunities to receive quality health care services. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.insurekidsnow.gov" target="_blank">www.insurekidsnow.gov</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/27/2014 08:00 AM
JAY, Okla. – Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials on Nov. 19 celebrated the topping out of the tribe’s new health center in Delaware County, which is still under construction. “Access to quality health care is the most important issue facing our people. We made a strategic investment to ensure Cherokee citizens would have every opportunity to receive the kind of world-class health care they deserve,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The expanded space, coupled with new state-of-the-art equipment, allows us to deliver better and faster care to more people.” The health center will be 42,00 square feet and is expected to cost approximately $13.5 million. It will have services such as behavioral health, contract health, dental, diabetes care, laboratory, nutrition, optometry, pharmacy with mail order, physical therapy services, primary care, public health nursing, radiology and Women, Infants and Children. According to a CNB press release, the original Sam Hider Health Center was opened in 1989, which makes it one of the oldest health centers in the tribe’s health care system. Approximately 100 people are employed in the existing 26,000-square-foot facility. In 2013, that facility served more than 80,000 patient visits. “It was time for a new health center,” Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said. “Health care is important to the Cherokee people, and I am grateful we are able to make this investment for the citizens.” The new Sam Hider Health Center is one of four health centers under construction with the help of CNB, which provided funds of more than $100 million. “This new health center is something that Cherokees will take pride in for years,” Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said. “This has been a dream for a long time, and I couldn’t be more pleased that local citizens will have access to improved health facilities.”
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.