Tribe to build
450,000 sq. ft. Hastings addition, IHS to fund operations at $80M
per year or more
ROCKVILLE, MD The Cherokee Nation signed an agreement
with Indian Health Service Wednesday to secure the largest joint
venture funding project ever among tribes. The agreement allows
for IHS to fund the hospital at an estimated $80 million or more
per year. The funding would last a minimum of 20 years, or potentially
for the life of the hospital.
IHS is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services that funds and provides American Indians health care.
The historic agreement opens the door for the Cherokee Nation
to pay more than $150 million for the construction of a 450,000-square-foot
health center in Tahlequah that will be the largest ever built among
tribes across the nation under IHS. In the agreement, IHS will request
funding for staffing and operating expenses each year for at least
20 years once the hospital reaches capacity.
"This agreement secured with IHS will be absolutely transformative
for the Cherokee Nation and our ability to deliver world-class health
care for future generations in northeastern Oklahoma," Cherokee
Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. "IHS saw Cherokee Nation
as a good partner to deliver quality care and together we are making
the health of Indian Country our top priority. This public-private
partnership is going to create both construction and health care
jobs and be a significant economic impact in our region."
Chief Baker, Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin, Tribal Council Speaker
Joe Byrd, Executive Director of Cherokee Nation Health Services
Connie Davis, Deputy Director of Health Services Charles Grim, Chief
Executive Officer at W.W. Hastings Hospital Brian Hail, IHS Principal
Deputy Director Robert G. McSwain and HIS Director of Environmental
Health and Engineering Gary Hartz signed the agreement at the IHS
headquarters in Maryland.
"For more than two decades, the competitive IHS Joint Venture
Construction Program has strengthened partnerships with tribes across
the country and ensured that comprehensive, culturally acceptable
health services are available and accessible to American Indian
and Alaska Native people," McSwain said. "This new agreement with
the Cherokee Nation for the facility in Tahlequah is an important
step toward raising the health of our people to the highest level."
The 450,000-square-foot health center will be an addition on
the existing 190,000-square-foot Hastings Hospital campus in Tahlequah.
The renewal of the joint venture program that will allow the
Cherokee Nation to build and operate a new facility was made possible
thanks to the leadership in Congress who championed the program
through the budget process and federal allocations.
"I am extremely proud of the work Chief Baker and the entire
Cherokee Nation have put into making this joint venture a reality.
Oklahoma has consistently ranked at the bottom of all states when
it comes to national health indicators. It is important that local,
state, and federal groups and officials take steps that will promote
health and wellness across our state," said Cherokee Nation citizen
and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). "The health center in
Tahlequah will be a very big step, and I applaud the Cherokee Nation
and Indian Health Service's commitment to promoting the health and
wellbeing of all individuals."
Congressman Tom Cole, (R-Okla.), a Chickasaw Nation citizen,
said this will benefit Indian Country and all tribes.
"I was delighted to learn about this historic partnership between
the Cherokee Nation and the Indian Health Service that will greatly
benefit Indian Country for years to come. As a strong supporter
of joint ventures like this one and having seen the real benefits
of similar facilities, including one built by my own tribe, I believe
the future is indeed bright as the Cherokee Nation prepares to improve
the health and well-being of tribal citizens by investing in this
project," Rep. Cole said. "I applaud those who worked together to
make this incredible vision become reality. Certainly, Oklahoma
communities and generations of tribal citizens will be better because
The new addition will create jobs and expand new specialty services,
such as surgeons and endocrinology, which currently are not offered
at Hastings, which the tribe has operated since 2008.
"This agreement will provide the Cherokee Nation an opportunity
to better meet the demand and needs of our Cherokee Nation citizens
and other Native Americans who access our health system," said Davis,
who worked as a nurse in the original Indian Hospital in Tahlequah
that was a five-room ward. "I'm so grateful for this partnership
with IHS to ensure the future of health for our people and future
Other services included in the new facility are ambulatory care,
podiatry, a WIC program, audiology, dental care, eye care, primary
care, specialty care, diagnostic imaging, a laboratory, a pharmacy,
rehabilitation services, surgery, behavioral health, health education,
public health nursing, public health nutrition and a wellness center.
A groundbreaking for the new addition will be held this spring.
The Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system
in the country with more than 1.2 million patient visits per year.