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Cherokee Nation Chief signs legislation to fund new hospital, outpatient health center

Rendering of the new Cherokee Nation hospital
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signing legislation
Posted at 1:11 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 14:11:03-05

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — A new beginning. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed legislation today that will invest a total of $440 million into two major health care capital improvement projects.

The two projects are approving $400 million for the construction of a new hospital in Tahlequah and $35 million for a new outpatient health center in Salina.

The Council of the Cherokee Nation approved the legislation during its December Council meeting.

Chief Hoskin says this about the new ventures:

“After a decade of dramatic expansion of our Cherokee Nation health system, we must keep investing to ensure Cherokee citizens have access to the best in health care. Through this landmark legislation, the Cherokee Nation will construct a state-of-the-art hospital to replace the nearly 40-year-old W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah using the latest in hospital design. We will then repurpose our current hospital facility to be the heart of our expanded behavioral health program. On top of all of this, we will also use this legislation to replace the A-Mo Health Center in Salina with a new, state-of-the-art facility. Together, these projects will positively impact the lives of Cherokee families for many, many generations as we erase the line between mental health and physical health, and instead recognize that our goal must be to provide wellness for every Cherokee.”

Built in the mid-1980s, W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah was initially designed to service about 60,000 patient visits per year. Recently, the hospital facility has grown to serve over 500,000 patient visits annually.

The new hospital is still in the design phase but is expected to:

  • an increased bed capacity for critical care patients
  • provide inpatient dialysis
  • expanded space for the labor and delivery department

It is a real blessing to be able to invest these critical dollars to improve our health care system by growing it to meet the needs of our citizens," said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. "These investments will also positively benefit our tribe by creating new health care jobs, as well as construction jobs and other opportunities that benefit Cherokee families and communities.”

In 2019, the Cherokee Nation opened the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center in Tahlequah, the largest tribally operated outpatient health center in the country.

“I think this will allow us to really fulfill the vision and expectations of Cherokee Nation Health Services that hadn’t been met in previous years due to aging facilities and outdated equipment,” said Speaker of the Council Mike Shambaugh.

The legislation also authorizes Chief Hoskin to negotiate an agreement with Northeastern State University for a donation to its College of Optometry of up to $5 million.

The donation will support NSU’s construction of a new $33 million facility for the college at its Tahlequah campus. NSU and Cherokee Nation have a long-standing partnership providing optometry services to patients in the tribe’s health system.

Groundbreakings to kick off construction of the Tahlequah and Salina projects will be announced at a future date.

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