Cherokee Nation health Services director steps down for Chickasaw job
TAHLEQUAH — Lauded for his esteemed career when named the Cherokee Nation’s health care boss this spring, Dr. Charles Grim is stepping down for what he calls a new opportunity.
“Leaving the Cherokee Nation has been the most difficult decision of my career,” Grim said in a Dec. 13 resignation statement. “However, I was presented an opportunity that I just simply could not refuse.”
According to the Chickasaw Nation, Grim has been appointed its new secretary of health.
“While I am appreciative to the Cherokee Nation for the wonderful past opportunity,” Grim stated in a Chickasaw news release, “I am excited about continuing my health care career with the Chickasaw Nation.”
Grim was promoted to executive director of the Cherokee Nation’s Health Services in April. Deputy director since 2013, he replaced Connie Davis, who at the time, said she resigned to spend more time with family.
In Grim’s stead, Dr. R. Stephen Jones has been named Health Services’ acting deputy director.
“Dr. Jones has done an outstanding job transforming our dental program,” Grim said, “and I have complete confidence in his ability to lead Cherokee Nation Health Services.”
The Cherokee Nation plans to conduct a nationwide search for Grim’s replacement. In the meantime, Health Services is “in great hands with Dr. Jones at the helm,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a news release.
According to the Cherokee Nation, Jones began practicing dentistry in 1992 and was instrumental in opening the first dental clinics at Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw and Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell. A Cherokee Nation citizen and Stilwell native, Jones also ran a successful private practice for several years before returning to the Cherokee Nation as senior dental director of Health Services in 2012, according to the Cherokee Nation.
Also a Cherokee Nation citizen, Grim is a retired assistant Surgeon General and rear admiral in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Services. During his career, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Area Indian Health Service, Health Leader of the Year from Commissioned Officers Association of U.S. Public Health Service, Community Leadership Award from the Cherokee Nation, as well as multiple U.S. Public Health Service medals and citations, including the U.S. Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medallion.
Under Grim’s leadership, the nation’s health system “has undergone a remarkable transformation,” Baker added.
“We built four new health centers, established a first-of-its-kind medical school partnership with Oklahoma State University and will soon open the largest outpatient health facility in all of Indian Country under a joint venture with the Indian Health Service.”