OCHELATA, Okla. - Cherokee Nation celebrated the topping out of a new health center currently under construction in Washington County.
"Cherokee citizens in this area of our jurisdiction are one step closer to accessible, quality health care," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "I'm proud we are making a significant investment in health care that will positively impact the lives of our people for generations."
The tribe hosted a luncheon to thank the construction crew, health care staff and others involved in the project. They and fellow Cherokees watched as the final beam was set on a facility that will support the health care needs of Cherokee citizens living in the northwest portion of the tribe's jurisdiction.
The 28,000-square-foot health center in Ochelata, just south of Bartlesville, will replace the existing 5,000-square-foot Cherokee Nation Bartlesville Health Center. That small clinic currently operates in a small storefront building. Total cost of the Ochelata project is $9 million.
The new health center will accommodate a wide range of new health services, including primary care, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, pharmacy with mail order, laboratory, nutrition, WIC, contract health and diabetes care.
"This is going to be a regional clinic and take some pressure off the health center in Nowata," said Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Dick Lay. "We will see a lot of citizens from Washington, Nowata and Tulsa counties and some from Rogers County. It is a good, central location to all of these communities. We've waited a long time to complete the tribe's entire clinic system, and this project is great for the Cherokee Nation."
The Cooweescoowee Health Center is one of four health centers under construction, thanks to a $100 million investment into the tribe's health system by Cherokee Nation Businesses, funded primarily through casino profits.
Cherokee Nation Construction Resources, a division of CNB's environmental and construction portfolio, is managing the construction of the health system expansion.
The name "Cooweescoowee" was Principal Chief John Ross's Cherokee name, and the northwest district was named in his honor. John Ross was the longest serving Cherokee chief, leading the Cherokee people from 1828 to 1866. Ross led the Cherokees across the Trail of Tears in 1838 and served until his death in 1866. Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the United States and consists of eight health centers throughout the Cherokee Nation and W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.