Council approves $3.5 million for additional health equipment

04/28/2014

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted to redirect $3.5 million from the Tribal Council House building fund to the Health Services supplies budget during Thursday’s executive finance committee meeting. The additional monies will be directed to health equipment and supplies, like mammography.

“We have several new health facilities opening over the next year, and our citizens deserve the best equipment to go along with them,” said Tina Glory-Jordan, speaker of the Tribal Council. “While a new council house is needed eventually, the greater and more important need is to serve the health concerns of the Cherokee people.”

“I’ve promised to deliver better health care to our constituents, and this is one more way I’m delivering on that promise,” said Jodie Fishinghawk, Tribal Council district 8 and chair of the executive finance committee. “As our clinics expand, this equipment will be critical in delivering the care our citizens deserve.”

The Tribal Council House, believed to have been built in the late 1960s or early 1970s, was closed last year after extensive mold was discovered. The cost to remediate and repair the aging building would have exceeded the cost of a new building. Instead of moving forward with a new building, the council will continue to conduct business in their temporary space inside the Cherokee Nation’s main tribal complex.

“Our current space is perfectly fine for conducting the business of the Cherokee people, particularly when there are greater needs elsewhere,” said Joe Byrd, Tribal Council district 2. “Our priority is improving the lives and health of the Cherokee people, and that’s far more important than a new council house at this time.”

In addition to radiology equipment like mammography and ultrasound machines, the $3.5 million will also purchase dental equipment, wheelchairs, defibrillators and more.

“This new equipment will screen for deadly diseases and help treat serious health conditions,” said Janelle Fullbright, Tribal Council district 6. “By redirecting these funds, we can actually save the lives of Cherokee people. That’s what’s most important and why we were elected.”

The Cherokee Nation is in the midst of a $100 million expansion of health care facilities, which includes new construction or expansion of four health centers. Construction is currently underway on those health centers, located in Jay, Ochelata, Sallisaw and Stilwell. A new hospital is also planned for Tahlequah and is slated for construction later this year. The capital projects are being funded completely by profits from Cherokee Nation Entertainment, the tribe’s gaming and hospitality arm.

“These new clinics and the new equipment will mean so much to the health and quality of life of our Cherokee people,” said Curtis Snell, Tribal Council district 9. “I’m so pleased that Cherokees in District 9 and across all districts of the Cherokee Nation will benefit from this budget reallocation, which was the right thing to do.”

The measure now moves to vote of the full Tribal Council on May 12.


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