(L to R) Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slayton, Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis, CNB Director of Cultural Art Curation Gina Olaya, Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, Tribal Council Secretary Frankie Hargis, CNB Board Member Jerry Holderby, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Attorney General Todd Hembree, Treasurer Lacey Horn, Cherokee Spiritual Leader Crosslin Smith, Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden, CNB Board Member Dan Carter, former Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk and CNB Board Member Sam Hart.
Published October 19, 2015
STILWELL, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation hosted an open house for its new $10 million Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center addition on Wednesday.
The 28,000-square-foot expansion nearly doubles the size of the existing health center in Stilwell. The new building will house primary care, lab and radiology. Radiology features a new X-ray machine that conducts bone density tests in order to better diagnose and treat osteoporosis.
“The long-term impact of this expanded health center means we will be able to offer Cherokee Nation citizens more and better services for years to come,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “The largest per capita population of Cherokees is right here in Adair County, and while the old Mankiller clinic was serviceable, it was overburdened. However, today, with new patient space and better equipment, we can see more people and make those visits faster and more comprehensive. We have a mission to build a healthier tribal nation, increase life expectancy and lower the number of Cherokees suffering from chronic disease.”
In 2014, the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center received 120,000 patient visits and filled more than 220,000 prescriptions, ranking it the second highest use among the tribe’s eight health centers.
“As one of our busiest health centers, the new Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center expansion will provide much-needed space in order for our employees to work more efficiently while also providing a higher level of comfort to our patients,” said Tribal Council Secretary Frankie Hargis. “We have begun to be the standard-bearer in health care in not only Indian Country, but throughout the nation, and this facility and our other projects will only increase that reputation.”
The Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center expansion is the third project completed under a $100 million health care capital improvement plan using casino profits. The Cherokee Nation opened a new health center in Ochelata and a new annex in Sallisaw this summer. A brand-new health center in Jay is scheduled to be completed soon.
“The citizens of Adair County have needed this investment in their health care facility for many years now, and I am proud that the Cherokee Nation has made it happen through the work of Chief Baker, Deputy Chief Crittenden and the Tribal Council,” said Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden.
Cherokee Nation displays cultural art throughout its health centers to provide a sense of comfort for patients and their families. The Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center features vintage photographs from across the community, as well as “The Origin of Strawberries,” which includes text and artist depictions of the traditional Cherokee story. The collaborative piece is part of an ongoing project featuring art created by Cherokee families. It depicts the work of Daniel HorseChief, Mary HorseChief, Sam HorseChief and Mary Adair.
“This state-of-the-art expansion at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell provides proof of the tribe’s commitment to providing first-class health care to its citizens,” said Connie Davis, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. “Our health team wants Cherokee Nation citizens to be treated by the best medical professionals in the best medical facilities, and the tribe is making that happen under the $100 million health care capital improvement plan.”
Cherokee Nation Construction Resources, a wholly owned company of the Cherokee Nation, served as contactor and oversaw the project. James R. Childers Architect Inc. designed the facility.
“The Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center staff is excited and grateful for the new expansion facility,” said Christie Cooper, clinic administrator of the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center. “This expansion is going to have a significant impact on the community and allow our staff the space to continue providing outstanding health care with improved efficiency.”
Cherokee Nation Health Services operates the largest tribally run health system in the country with 1.1 million patient visits in 2014. It consists of eight health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.