Vinita pediatrician positively impacts local families
Nicole Willis, a pediatrician at the Cherokee Nation’s Vinita Health Center, visits with 18-month-old Tinzlee Miller of Langley, Okla. Willis sees children from across northeastern Oklahoma and out of state. COURTESY
VINITA, Okla. – The winter season is the busiest time of year for Cherokee Nation pediatricians because of peaking numbers of cold and flu cases, as well as aggravated asthma and allergies.
CN citizen and Vinita Health Center pediatrician Nicole Willis, 31, of Claremore, has seen a rise in visits firsthand.
“I have seen really sick children as a result of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus,” Willis said. “As a pediatrician, I always encourage parents to take preventative measures with their children. Parents should get their children the influenza vaccine and practice frequent hand washing, as well as avoid busy places during the flu season.”
Willis, a recipient of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association Rookie Physician of the Year Award, is the most recent addition to pediatricians working for the tribe. She wanted to work in a rural area, and a scholarship from Indian Health Service encouraged her to give back to her American Indian community.
Willis finished her residency with Oklahoma State University Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis in Tulsa in 2012 before working for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma in its Norman clinic. She helped reach a near-capacity patient load after only three months.
In March, she started at the Vinita Health Center and now sees patients from as far as Joplin, Mo., and Springfield, Mo.
“Most of my patients are local and from the Joplin area, where they want a pediatrician closer to home,” Willis said. “I have a great patient population. They’re the best part of the job and remind me on a daily basis why I do what I do.”
Vinita resident and CN citizen Amy Turner had been taking her 4-year-old daughter to a private pediatrician in Claremore, but switched recently to Willis at the Vinita Health Center.
“It’s just so much more convenient with work and the drive to be able to bring her to a doctor here in town,” Turner said. “It helps that Dr. Willis is so great. We really love her.”
Other CN health facilities that have one or more pediatricians are W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, Amo Health Center in Salina, Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell and Sam Hider Health Center in Jay.
For more information, call the Vinita Health Center at 918-256-4800.
Vinita, ᎣᎸᎵᎰᎹ. – ᎪᎳ ᏕᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏍᏓᏯ ᏙᏓᏳᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎵ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎦᏅᎦᏘ ᎤᎷᏨ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎯᏳ ᎤᏴᏢ ᏚᏂᏂᏱᏍᎪ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎴ flu ᎾᏍᏊ, ᏃᎴᏍᏊ asthma ᎠᎴ allergies.
ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏙᏧᏓᏝᎥᎢ ᎠᏰᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎦᏅᎦᏘ Nicole Willis, ᏦᏍᎪ ᏌᏊ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ, ᎦᎴᎼ ᎡᎯ, ᎠᏂᎪᏩᏘ ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᎠᏁᏙᎲᎢ.
“ᎦᏥᎪ ᎢᎦ ᏧᎾᏓᎵᎳ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎾᎿ flu ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏁᏥ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎤᏂᏠᏨ ᏚᏂᏢᎪ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Willis. “ᎠᏯᏃ ᏥᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎨᏒ, ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎦᏥᏃᏎᎰ ᏧᎾᏓᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᏧᎾᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏚᏂᎧᎲᎢ. ᏧᎾᏓᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏧᎾᏘᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏚᏂᎧᎲ ᏗᎨᏥᏣᏲᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏁᎶᏙᏗ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᏧᎾᏑᎸᏗ, ᎡᏓᏍᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎤᎾᏣᏍᏈᏓ ᎠᏁᏙᎲ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᏍᎩ flu ᎠᏱᎵᏙᎲᎢ.”
Willis, ᏗᎪᏪᎵᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏄᏬᏘ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᏂᏴᏍᏗ ᏧᏂᏢᎩ ᎾᎿ Saint Francis ᎾᎿ ᏔᎳᏏ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎳᏚ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌ Ꮟ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏂᎦᎷᎬᎾ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ Absentee Shawnees Tribe ᎾᎿ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎾᎿ Norman ᎨᏥᎪᎵᏱᏗᎭ. ᎤᎵᏍᏕᎸᏓ ᎧᎵ ᎾᎥ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏧᏂᏢᎩ ᏓᏂᎪᏩᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏦᎢᏊ ᎢᏯᏅᏓ.
Ꮎ ᎠᏅᏱ, ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎾᎿ ᏙᏧᏓᏝᎥᎢ ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎠᎴ ᏃᏊ ᏓᎪᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᏧᎾᏓᎵᎳ ᏯᏛᎾ Joplin, Mo., ᎠᎴ Springfield, Mo.
“ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏓᏂᎳ ᎾᎥ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎨᏐ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ Joplin ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᎿ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎦᏅᎦᏘ ᎾᎠᏂᎨᏍᏗ ᏗᏁᎬ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Willis. “ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏁᎲ ᏗᎪᎵᏱᏓ ᎠᎩᎭ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᏬᏌᏂᏴ ᎨᏐ ᏗᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᏄᏱᎵᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲᎢ.”
ᏙᏧᏓᏝᎥᎢ ᏗᏂᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Amy Turner ᎠᎴ ᎠᏘᏂᏙᎰ ᏅᎩ ᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎨᏳᏣ ᎤᏪᎧᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏈᏱᏍᎩ ᎦᎴᎼᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎤᏁᏟᏴᏌ ᎾᏝᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎦᎾᎦᏘ Willis ᎾᎿ ᏙᏧᏓᏝᎥᎢ ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ.
“ᎢᎦᏃ ᎠᎯᏗᎨᎢ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎡᏓᏍᏗ ᏥᏯᏘᏃᎯᏍᏗ ᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎦᏚᎲᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Turner. “ᎢᎦᏃ ᎠᏍᏕᎵᎭ ᎾᏍᎩ Dr.Willis ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎨᏒ. ᎣᏥᎨᏳᎯ.”
ᏗᏐᎢ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏧᏂᏢᎩ ᏧᏂᎪᎵᏱᏓ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᎠᎴ ᏳᏂᎪᏓ ᏚᏂᎧᎲ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᏂᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎾᏍᎩ W.W. Hastings ᏧᏂᏢᎩᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏓᎵᏆ, ᏦᎢ ᏚᏪᏴ ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎫᏐᎢ, ᏙᏧᏩ Smith ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎾᎿ ᏌᎷᎾᎨᏴ, ᎠᎼ ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎼ, Wilma P. Mankiller ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏍᏗᎵᏪᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎾᏏᎾ ᏗᎦᏚᎾᎢ ᎠᏰᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎾᎿ ᏜᏰᎪᎢ.
ᎤᎪᏛ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗ ᏲᏚᎵ, ᏩᏟᏃᎮᏙᏓ Vinita Health Center 918-256-4800.