Cherokee council OKs medical, dental clinics
BY CLIFTON ADCOCK World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The chief must sign the resolution to make it happen.
TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council has passed a resolution to establish three new medical clinics and a dental clinic in northeastern Oklahoma.
The council also voted to allow employees of the Indian Health Services-operated W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah to remain federal employees if they choose.
The measure, which was sponsored by Councilor Tina Glory Jordan and passed by a vote of 12-5 at Monday night's meeting, requires the tribe's administration to determine funding levels and sources for each clinic in the measure within six months.
The legislation, which must be signed by Principal Chief Chad Smith before becoming law, establishes medical clinics in Tahlequah, Vinita and Jay and a dental clinic in Salina.
Supporters said the measure would bring much-needed health-care services to some parts of the Cherokee Nation, help alleviate pressure on the Hastings hospital's emergency room, and put in writing what the tribe has said previously about allowing the employees of the hospital to remain federal employees once the tribe takes over the hospital.
Opponents said the measure is redundant and possibly would take away funding for other health services.
The council voted last month to take over Hastings from Indian Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the tribe plans to make several additions at and around the hospital to improve care and offer specialty care.
Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he favored the legislation because "it contains elements which will help the Hastings takeover be successful and embraces the administration's plans for health-care expansion."
Although some of the projects in the legislation, including the Vinita clinic, are already well into the planning stage, it was important that the council "act as an equal partner with the executive branch to improve health care," Hoskin said.
Clifton Adcock 581-8462