Cherokee Nation Celebrates Opening of New Dental Clinic in Salina

April 29, 2011

Cherokee Nation Dental Director Dr. Stefan Hacker talks to the crowd about the services that will be offered at a new dental clinic located inside the Amo Health Center in Salina. A ribbon cutting ceremony was recently held to celebrate the new clinic, which is expected to be operational in June.

SALINA, Okla. — As part of a long term plan to make health care more accessible to its citizens and others, the Cherokee Nation celebrated the opening of a new dental clinic and facility expansion in the tribe’s Amo Health Center in Salina. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council members and Cherokee Nation Health Services officials addressed a crowd before cutting the ribbon in front of the facility’s new addition. 

The dental clinic houses more than $500,000 in equipment. The eight-chair facility features electronic records, digital radiology for x-rays and monitors at patient stations. With the addition of the new dental clinic, more patients may be cared for at Amo Health Center. According to Cherokee Nation Dental Director Dr. Stefan Hacker, the new clinic is projected to spur an increase in visits by 500 per month, or 6,000 annually. The expansion also contains a spacious new community room where health education events and other gatherings may be held. 

The Amo Health Center dental clinic will have an economic impact on the Salina area, as well. Fifteen new jobs in Salina have been created for those who work in various dental care capacities with the health center’s new addition. The majority of those new positions have been filled by Cherokee Nation citizens. 

Two new employees coming to the clinic are Drs. Fred and Ginger Garay. The married couple is part of the team of dentists who will see Amo dental clinic patients when the facility becomes fully operational at the first of June. Hacker says the two dentists will bring with them passion for what they do and enthusiasm about working in the Cherokee Nation healthcare system. 

“I loved going to the dentist as a kid,” said Fred Garay. “I liked everything about it, so I knew I wanted to be a dentist from an early age.” 

“I’m really impressed with the organization here and the way everyone works together,” added Ginger Garay. 

The dental clinic will be headed up by Dental Clinic Supervisor Dr. Allen Sumerlin, who is Cherokee and will be coming onboard at Amo from his current position with the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell. Rounding out the team are Dental Assistant Supervisor Debbie Walker and hygienist Mignon Loop. 

Amo Health Center Administrator Charles Smith said he looks forward to working with the Garays and the rest of the new dental team to provide area residents with more comprehensive treatment. 

“This is the beginning of a good venture,” said Charles Smith. “This clinic provides access to folks who were without dental care.” 

“The Cherokee Nation is executing its long term health care plan,” said Principal Chief Smith. “We don’t want our citizens to have to drive more than 30 minutes to get health care.” 

Amo provides a variety of outpatient medical services that includes pediatrics, public health nursing, a laboratory, a pharmacy with mail order, radiology, optometry, behavioral health, mammography, health promotion/disease prevention and contract health.

Cherokee Nation News Release
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