Cherokee Nation’s outpatient health facility to open in phases in October

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/24/2019 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Construction crew members work on the exterior of the Cherokee Nation’s 469,000-square-foot outpatient health facility in Tahlequah. Tribal officials say the facility should open in phases in October on the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Construction crew members work on the exterior of the Cherokee Nation’s 469,000-square-foot outpatient health facility in Tahlequah. Tribal officials say the facility should open in phases in October on the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A construction crew from Flintco-Cooper piece together the grand staircase in the main entrance of the Cherokee Nation’s outpatient health facility in Tahlequah. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The largest tribal outpatient health facility in the country is set to open in phases this October after two years of construction.

According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe’s four-story, 469,000-square-foot outpatient center on the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus will open its optometry, audiology, physical rehabilitation, behavioral health, radiology, lab and pharmacy services on Oct. 7.

It also states the primary care, dental and resident clinic will open to patients on Oct. 21. A grand opening ceremony is being planned for November, officials said.

“The Cherokee Nation is excited to open this beautiful new facility that allows us to serve more of our citizens, and offer more services than they ever had before,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This facility is a real game changer that will improve our overall health system and is a huge investment in our local economy. It is a blessing for me to see former Chief Bill John Baker’s vision come to fruition because of what it means for our citizens.”

The CN invested about $200 million of its general fund dollars into the facility’s construction and equipment purchases, the release states. It also states that the Indian Health Service will fund $100 million per year in staffing and operating costs in a joint-venture agreement with the tribe.

The facility features more than 240 exam rooms, two MRI machines, an ambulatory surgery center, 34 dental chairs, full service optometry and specialty health services, officials said.

“This facility is bringing 850 jobs into Cherokee Nation over the next few years, including 100 physicians. Anytime we can improve infrastructure and boost the economy with new jobs is a win-win for our tribe and Indian Country,” Mary Baker-Shaw, At-Large tribal councilor and Health Committee chairwoman, said.

According to the release, the W.W. Hastings Hospital will remain the inpatient facility on the campus, which will also house the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation to open in 2020.

The outpatient health facility is located at 19600 N. Ross St. The facility’s main entrance is off Ross Street, but an entrance from Hastings Hospital will be available Oct. 7.

“The opening of the new Cherokee Nation outpatient health center will allow us to expand services and improve access for our patients,” Dr. Stephen Jones, CN Health Services interim executive director, said. “We will now be able to house a multitude of services under one roof which will not only provide convenience for patients but it will remove some of the challenges to the delivery in health care that our patients have experienced for decades.”

Inside the new facility is also more than 600 pieces of Cherokee art, all made by CN citizens, the release states.

“If you come in, we’ve created a cottage industry of Cherokee artists that before wouldn’t have had a venue to sell and display their art,” Gina Olaya, who oversees culture, art and design for Cherokee Nation Businesses, said. “Now that this health center is built, we have provided them a location. It’s literally giving back to the people not in just a dollar amount but in goodwill and community spirit.”

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