Cherokee citizens and Elder Care participants Byron Elliott and Barbara Bates, both of Tahlequah, visit at the Tahlequah facility.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —Cherokee Elder Care opened its doors five years ago, serving just two elders with 20 employees, but has since grown to serving 123 elders by 56 dedicated employees and now working on a facility expansion.
“The elderly represent a growing and vital resource in our communities, and some need an added level of care that we have been helping to meet for the past five years,” said Katina Dugger, community education liaison for Cherokee Elder Care.
The Cherokee Nation program, for those 55 and older, provides a number of services, including primary care, prescription medication and rehabilitation.
Cherokee citizen Byron Elliott, of Tahlequah, has been enrolled in the PACE program for less than a year, but has seen significant results in recovery from a back injury that left him temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
“My physical therapist here at Elder Care worked with me 30 to 45 minutes, three days a week, and that made a lot of difference for my progress,” Elliott said. “It wasn’t long until I was progressing from getting out of the wheelchair to only using a walking cane.”
Due to its success, the Elder Care facility on Fourth Street in Tahlequah is getting an additional 3,600-square-foot expansion for more clinical space, rooms for dementia patients’ care and meetings with caregivers and families. Along with the new space, program administrators are looking to increase the service area to serve more elders.
Currently, Elder Care is able to serve Cherokees and non-Native American elders in 16 zip codes. Administrators are working with the state of Oklahoma and Medicare and Medicaid to add nine more zip codes to their service area and open a facility in Muskogee.
“We are in the process of expanding our zip code catchment and providing a solution for long-term services to more of our elders within the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional area,” said Sharon Washington-Hilton, Cherokee Elder Care program director. “We look forward to being able to expand and provide this service to other communities.”
To celebrate Elder Care’s fifth anniversary and raise funds to accommodate their growth, Cherokee Elder Care will host a formal dinner at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 1, at Go Ye Village’s Richardson Hall, 1201 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah. There will also be a silent auction for artwork, gift baskets and more. For more information about the fundraiser, call Katina Dugger at 918-207-4979 or email email@example.com.
Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896
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