Vinita Health Center officially opens its doors
11/13/2012 8:52:28 AM
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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
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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
BY JAMI CUSTER Reporter 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

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