Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Choctaw Nation donates $1 million to Dean McGee Eye Institute

Dean McGee Eye Institute Ophthalmologists and Choctaw Nation celebrate 10-year partnership

Oklahoma City – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has contributed $1 million to the Dean McGee Eye Institute Capital Campaign, putting the Institute within $2 million of its $46 million campaign goal. The capital campaign has provided funds for completion of the new, five-story, 78,000-square-foot, world-class research and clinical facility that was dedicated on September 30 and for renovation of the existing 70,000-square-foot building constructed in 1975.

“We are extremely grateful to the Choctaw Nation for this very generous gift. Our ophthalmologists, led by Dr. Stephen Fransen, have enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with Choctaw leaders since 2001 in working together to preserve vision for the Choctaw people through the Diabetic Retinopathy Outreach Program clinic in Talihina,” said Dr. Gregory Skuta, President and CEO of the Dean McGee Eye Institute and Edward L. Gaylord Professor and Chair of the OU College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. “This gift helps to expand our clinical and research capabilities in treating and preventing vision loss from diabetes and other disorders in the hundreds of tribal members who visit our doctors both in Oklahoma City and in Talihina.”

Dr. Fransen and other Dean McGee Eye Institute ophthalmologists have treated over 3,000 tribal members at the two clinics, performing nearly 600 retinal laser procedures in the Talihina clinic alone.

“Encouraging American Indians to seek vision care is a major health goal of the Choctaw Nation, especially considering the high risk of diabetic retinopathy in this population,” said Chief Gregory E. Pyle of the Choctaw Nation. “The Dean McGee Eye Institute has proactively dedicated itself to working with us to help diagnose and treat retinal problems earlier in the disease process and thereby achieve better outcomes.”

The newly-expanded Dean McGee Eye Institute facility, which adjoins the original facility, doubles the space for research laboratories, expands clinical capacity by 40 percent, and consolidates all of the clinical care, vision research, teaching, and administrative functions into one location.

The Institute’s clinical and surgical teams provide more than 150,000 patient visits (both adult and children) in addition to 7,000 surgical procedures each year. Dean McGee Eye Institute physicians and scientists are internationally respected and hold numerous leadership positions in major professional and scientific organizations. The residency and fellowship training programs at the Institute, which are affiliated with the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology, are highly competitive and attract top candidates from throughout the country.

About Dean McGee Eye Institute

The Dean McGee Eye Institute is one of the largest and most respected eye institutes in the United States and houses the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Its research and training programs are among the most highly regarded in the country. More than half of the Institute’s ophthalmologists are listed in The Best Doctors in America; its Director of Vision Research is a Past President of the International Society for Eye Research; two members of the faculty are recent or current directors of the American Board of Ophthalmology; two serve on the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology; and one recently served as president of the American Glaucoma Society.

About Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation is the third largest tribe in the United States, governed under the leadership of Chief Gregory E. Pyle since 1997. Under the constitution of 1983, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is a three-branch government – legislative, judicial and executive. Making up the 10 ½ counties of the southeast corner of the state, the Capitol of the tribe is at Tushka Homma, located in Pushmataha County, where the tribal council makes legislative decisions and the judicial branch holds court.
The administrative headquarters are in Durant (Bryan County), and 17 community centers scattered in the various counties house field offices for the many programs and services so that the tribal members are served with convenience. A new hospital and clinics have been constructed over the past several years, and 5,000 new jobs have been created since 1997 through economic and program development.