TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed legislation to invest $440 million into health care capital improvement projects for the Cherokee Nation in eastern Oklahoma.
The projects the Cherokee Nation is investing in include $400 million to construct a new hospital in Tahlequah and $35 million for a new outpatient health center in Salina.
"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," Chief Hoskin said. "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."
W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, built in the mid-1980s, has approximately 180,00 square feet and was initially designed to service about 60,000 patient visits per year. The hospital recently reports servicing over 500,000 patients annually.
The new hospital is still in the process of being designed. Still, it is expected to provide at least twice the space as the existing facility, allowing for the bed capacity to be increased for critical care patients and provide inpatient dialysis. The expanded space for the hospital will also increase the number of births in the labor and delivery department.
"The new W.W. Hastings facility and the new health facility in Salina will offer access to more services, better testing, and shorter wait times for 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."
The Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center in Tahlequah, opened in 2019, is the largest tribally operated outpatient health center in the U.S., spanning 469,000-square-feet. This facility is located near the existing W.W. Hastings Hospital and will connect to the new hospital being built.
"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and expectations of Cherokee Nation Health Services that hadn't been met in previous years due to aging facilities and outdated equipment," said Speaker of the Council Mike Shambaugh.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 signed also authorizes Chief Hoskin to negotiate a memorandum of agreement with Northeastern State University to donate to its College of Optometry up to $5 million. The donation will support NSU's construction of a new facility for the college at its Tahlequah campus.