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Cherokees Expand Health Services in Muskogee

News from the Cherokee Nation, OK
Cherokee News Path ~ Saturday, February 9, 2008

Copyright © 2008 CNO
All Rights Reserved

"CN officials joined with others in the celebration of the opening of the tribe's Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma."
MUSKOGEE, OK — The Cherokee Nation celebrated a milestone today with the dedication of its largest health center to date, the striking Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee. The 105,000 square-foot, three-story building was built at a cost of $23 million and will begin seeing patients on Monday, February 25.

“The Cherokee Nation has excellent health care services and we are happy to now provide a full spectrum of health services to our citizens and other Native Americans in the area,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith. “This is a fine example of partnerships within our tribe and other government agencies.”

A joint venture between the Cherokee Nation and the Indian Health Service (IHS), the health facility was designed to reduce the burden on other IHS facilities, such as W.W. Hastings Indian Medical Center in Tahlequah and the Claremore Indian Hospital as well as the tribe’s Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell and the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw.

Dr. Charles Grim, Senior Executive Policy Advisor of IHS, commended the tribe for its economic growth and said the stability of the Cherokee Nation is one of the factors that led to the joint venture partnership between the tribe and IHS.

“Three Rivers Health Center is the beautiful end result of the partnership between Cherokee Nation and IHS,” said Grim. “Through this joint venture, the tribe built the facility and IHS will provide the funding for staffing, maintenance and the daily operations of the health center.”

The new health facility will provide services to thousands of Cherokee citizens and other Native Americans while providing economic opportunities to the more than 100 medical personnel that the facility will employ.

Wren Stratton, Mayor of Muskogee, describes the partnership between the city and the Cherokee Nation as a relationship built upon common values and common ground and considers the new health center a gift to the citizens and to Muskogee.

In the past, the Cherokee Nation’s clinic in Muskogee served only women and children. Three Rivers Health Center will offer services to men, women and children as well as a variety of outpatient medical services, including family medicine, podiatry, physical therapy, radiology, behavioral health services, optometry and a drive-through pharmacy. Existing services, which include laboratory and diagnostic services such as MRI’s and CT scans will expand.

The overall design is a tribute to the rich culture and history of the Cherokee Nation. The building faces east, which is a symbol of new beginnings, renewal, strength and health in Cherokee culture. In addition, the four exterior columns were designed to resemble the columns of the Cherokee National Female Seminary which was a historic school operated by the Cherokee Nation near Tahlequah. Inside, the Cherokee syllabary is used on signage to promote the continued importance of the Cherokee language. Ancient southeast designs and the seven-pointed star, which symbolizes the seven clans of the Cherokee, appear throughout the interior and the exterior of the building. The Three Rivers Health Center is named for its historic geographic location, a central trading site among tribes in this area.

“The mission of the Cherokee Nation in its development of Three Rivers is noble,” said Brad Carson, Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “The facility is remarkable and was created by a people with a powerful nation.”

Funds to build the center were raised through the Cherokee Nation issuing investment grade bonds. As the largest Indian outpatient facility in Oklahoma, the benefits of Three Rivers will be far reaching.

“This is an outstanding facility not only for health services, but also for the architecture and the art in the building itself,” Smith said. “It is a testament to Cherokee culture and history. I think that all visitors will enjoy viewing the artwork in Three Rivers and learning about the history of the male and female Cherokee seminaries.”

Although the Cherokee Nation brought this much-needed facility to life, the health center and its numerous services will be available to all Cherokee Nation citizens and to all Native Americans with a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) card.

Wanda and James D. Maher, of Warner, are thrilled that Three Rivers will soon be available to the Muskogee area. For years, the couple has been traveling to Tahlequah for their medical needs and looks forward to having a health service provider closer to home.

“Having a health center so close is exciting and really a god-send,” said Wanda Maher. “We have insurance and could go elsewhere for our medical needs, but we prefer using IHS. For 20 years or so, my husband has been going to Hastings and I’ve used the Cherokee Nation clinic here in Muskogee. We’ve just had a good experience and the doctors are wonderful. We can’t wait for Three Rivers to open.”

“This day is a great achievement for the Cherokee Nation,” said Don Garvin, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Member. “This is a very exciting occasion for our tribe, the Three Rivers District and Muskogee, Okla.

Currently the tribe operates nine health care facilities in its 14-county jurisdictional area located in northeastern Oklahoma.

Related path(s):

*Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

*Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma / Washington Office

*Cherokee Heritage Center

Related Cherokee Nation contact information:

Mike Miller, Cherokee Nation
Director of Communications
Phone: 918-456-0671 (ext.2210)
Fax: 918-458-5580
E-mail: Communications@cherokee.org

Larry Daugherty, Advertising Manager
Cherokee Nation - Public Affairs
Phone 918-456-0671 (Ex.2324)
E-mail: ldaugherty@cherokee.org

Steven Swogger, Agriculture Liaison
Natural Resources Department
Phone: 918-456-0671 (ext.2546)
FAX: 918-458-7673
E-mail: sswogger@cherokee.org

Bradley D. Peak, Cherokee Nation
Natural Resources Specialist
Phone: 918-456-0671 (ex.2843)
E-mail: bpeak@cherokee.org

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