Tribe plans for severe weather in construction of Tahlequah hospital


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials are placing an emphasis on safety in the design and construction of a new hospital in Tahlequah. Modifications to the tribe’s existing plans for the $60 million facility enhance its ability to withstand severe weather.

Members of the tribe’s construction management team recently met with construction crews at the site of Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, to gain valuable insights on the construction of its new facility. The hospital is being rebuilt after taking a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado in May 2011.

“If we’ve learned anything from what we saw in Joplin and Moore, it’s that a community hospital is the primary point of physical and mental care in these epic emergency situations. We must make every effort to ensure our hospital will be able to meet the needs of our community and our citizens in a potential crisis,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “As we are in the process of designing the Cherokee Nation’s new hospital, it is imperative that we make those kinds of investments to ensure our patients, along with our staff, are as safe and secure as possible. We are eager to learn how the new Joplin hospital was planned and constructed.”

Representatives from Mercy Hospital and McCarthy Building Construction collaborated with the Cherokee design team to discuss added safety measures, including reinforced walls and windows made to withstand high-speed winds up to 250 miles per hour.

"The health care system as a whole is about making a community stronger,” said John Fornen, executive director for strategic projects at Mercy Hospital. “At Mercy Hospital, we want to help any community we can. It’s the right thing to do."

An additional $7.5 million was added to the hospital’s construction budget by the Cherokee Nation Businesses’ board of directors to incorporate the new safety measures.

“Even if the cost is a little more in the construction, we know we are making an investment for our people for the next 60 to 70 years,” said Baker.

The new hospital is part of the tribe’s $100 million plan to improve health care for its citizens.

Construction is underway on two new health centers as well as renovations to two existing facilities. Cherokee Nation Businesses’ construction division is managing the entire project with the support of dozens of TERO-certified Cherokee subcontractors.

Cherokee Nation Business News
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