Cherokee hospital grand opening

Hundreds of people attend the grand opening of the Cherokee Nation’s four-story, 469,000-

square-foot outpatient health center in Tahlequah on Thursday. Courtesy Cherokee Nation

TAHLEQUAH — Leaders from the Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Service joined hundreds of guests to celebrate the grand opening of the tribe’s new 469,000-square-foot outpatient health center on Thursday.

The four-story facility on the campus of W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah is the largest outpatient health center in the U.S. to be operated by a tribe.

As part of the IHS joint venture between the Cherokee Nation and the federal government, the tribe invested $200 million in construction and equipment for the facility, and IHS is providing $100 million annually for staffing and operational costs.

“When W.W. Hastings Hospital was built in 1986, it was meant to see 100,000 patient visits per year. Now, more than three decades later, the Cherokee Nation oversees the largest tribal health care system in the country, and Hastings Hospital has been caring for well over four times the number of patients it was originally built to see,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.

“That’s why former Principal Chief Bill John Baker went to Washington, D.C., in 2014 and convinced the federal government to reopen the joint-venture application process for tribes. Because of those efforts and thanks to the tireless dedication of hundreds of men and women who have worked on this joint-venture project since that time, today we are ushering in a new era of health care for the Cherokee people.”

With the Cherokee Nation outpatient health center complete, the tribe is expected to add 850 new health care-related jobs in the coming years, including 100 more physicians.

“The Cherokee Nation has long been at the forefront of modernizing tribal health care systems, and this state-of-the-art facility is a tribute to those who came before us and laid the foundation of what we see today,” Hoskin said. “Together with the support of Indian Health Service, the Cherokee Nation is poised to change the lives of Cherokee families for generations to come.”

The new facility has more than 240 exam rooms, an ambulatory surgery center, two MRI machines, 34 dental chairs, full-service optometry, primary care and specialty health services.

“It is gratifying to see the work done by so many during my time in office result in such a magnificent facility and, best of all, better health care for the Cherokee people,” Baker said.

The new health center began opening in phases on Oct. 7.


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