In 2019 the Cherokee Nation continues its plan to expand and modernize its health services facilities for future generations of tribal citizens.
In October, Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced a partnership with Oklahoma State University Center of Osteopathic Medicine to begin the first tribally-affiliated medical school in the country.
To help achieve this mission, the tribe has plans to build a state-of-the art facility for the medical school on the W.W. Hastings campus in Tahlequah.
Plans include razing the current annex building housing optometry services to pave the way for new infrastructure for the medical school. A cost analysis determined that construction of a new state-of-the art facility is more cost-efficient than renovations to modernize the existing structure.
Beginning the week of January 7, the annex will be closed to prepare for construction. Patients will temporarily receive optometry services at Northeastern State University’s Oklahoma College of Optometry building located at 1001 N. Grand Ave. in Tahlequah.
“Cherokee Nation and the NSU School of Optometry have a long and storied history together and this is simply another chapter in our collaboration to provide excellence in eye care and vision preservation while we make history building a top-of-the-line medical school to home grow Cherokee doctors and more doctors for rural northeastern Oklahoma,” Chief Baker said. “This unique collaboration with NSU and now OSU means we are aggressively addressing health care disparities and providing more and advanced services for our people.”
W.W. Hastings optometry patients will be taken care of at the NSU campus by optometrists and optometry residents from the Oklahoma College of Optometry until the new outpatient health facility on the W.W. Hastings Campus opens later this year.
The new optometry clinic located in that facility is tentatively planned to open in August to serve tribal citizens.
“Eye care services will be just as exceptional as what our patients are used to having at the Hastings annex and we hope our patients understand during the next few months why this transition is so important,” said Dr. Stephen Jones, Cherokee Nation Health Services interim deputy director. “Cherokee Nation Health Services has, for many years, partnered to provide patients with the highest quality vision care possible while providing an excellent educational experience for optometrists, and that will remain our focus.”
KXMX News Staff
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