OSU medical school complete, health boss says
The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, seen under construction on Oct. 14, is now open, according to CN health leaders. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Under construction since 2018, the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tahlequah is now finished, according to tribal health leaders.
The 87,000-square-foot building, located on the W.W. Hastings Outpatient Health Center campus, is a joint project of the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University Center for Health and Sciences.
“They’ve got occupancy, and OSU has moved their students out of our outpatient facility into the building,” CN Health Services Executive Director Dr. Stephen Jones said during a Health Committee meeting on Jan. 11. “I think today might have been the first day of classes starting in that building. We’re glad to get that completed.”
Although the COVID-19 outbreak delayed its finish, the college’s first 54 students were welcomed in summer 2020, training for the most part remotely and also at the CN outpatient health clinic, OSU leaders said. During a fall tour of the building, the school’s dean, Dr. William Pettit, said its purpose was “to train primary care physicians.”
“We really focus on training our physicians to work in the area of primary care and to serve rural, underserved and now tribal nation health care initiatives,” he said. “The big goal is to provide health care throughout the districts of the Cherokee Nation, as well as the state of Oklahoma.”
The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation – the first tribally affiliated medical school in the nation – is an extension of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa.
The building features laboratories, lecture halls, classrooms, faculty offices, study areas and even a gym.
As work on the medical school was nearing an end, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said it was “going to change health care for our people and help the whole region.”
“The most exciting, progressive and important things happening in health care in Indian Country anywhere is happening on this campus, and that’s something that’s been years in the making,” he said.