A perfect time to say Yakoke to the Choctaw Health Care System

By Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr.
July 5, 2023

Recently we were blessed to host a groundbreaking ceremony in McAlester for an exciting expansion to our health clinic. As I reflected on the ceremony that day, I was reminded about all the exciting projects on the horizon for the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority (CNHSA) and I am going to take this opportunity to highlight some of those projects and to say Yakoke to some of our health care professionals who have been singled out by their peers.

The McAlester Clinic expansion will provide more services that include family medicine, internal, same-day clinic, pediatrics, podiatry, behavioral health, lab, radiology and pharmacy. The clinic will be adding GI, cardio, ENT, endocrinology, orthopedics, speech therapy and an Employee Health area.

The McAlester Wind Horse Behavioral Health recently celebrated 15 years. This facility has provided behavioral health visits while also housing multiple grant programs that schedule and create events for Native Americans all over the reservation.

The Poteau Wellness Center and Durant Wellness Center recently celebrated five years of providing wellness opportunities in June.

Also in June, for residency students who completed their program, there was a Choctaw Nation Family Medicine residency graduation at the Choctaw Nation Casino & Conference Center in Durant.

Upcoming on July 12, the Atoka Clinic will celebrate 15 years of service. This clinic specializes in Family Practice, Immunization, Lab/X-ray, WIC, Diabetes Education, Nutrition and Pharmacy (including a drive-thru).

The Choctaw Nation Employee Prescription Program has reached a total of 992,120 so far in 2023; that total is up 5% from this time last year.

The healthcare system has grown by 779 associates since October 2022.

CNHSA has a total of 58,489 patients and has patient encounters totaling 667,677, a 2% increase from this time last year. Pediatrics (our highest growing department) has a total of 8,838 patients, and so far this year, there have been 20,754 encounters (a 27% increase in encounters vs. this same timeframe last year).

Some of our Choctaw healthcare associates have been highlighted for their exemplary work as well. Among those honored:

  • Kayla Adams has been singled out as a Bright Idea winner. Kayla’s idea of writing an article for the Biskinik to provide diabetes education to tribal members is now a monthly feature.
  • General Surgeon Dr. Amanda Chisum-Price was awarded the National Indian Health Board Area/Regional Impact Award for 2023 in recognition of outstanding service to advance American Indian and Alaska Native Health. Dr. Chisum-Price also received the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society Award.
  • Also, at the 2023 Oklahoma Osteopathic Association annual convention, Dr. Eric Gillette received the Oklahoma Rookie Physician of the Year Award for contributions and service to his/her school, community, and association and impacted medical education in and outside of Oklahoma.
  • Dr. Larry Ellis received the A.T. Still Award of Excellence. This award is given to the physician that most exemplifies the teaching philosophy of the founder of our revered profession.
  • Dr. Gary Lawrence, Director of Nursing Services, is a contributing author in a text entitled “A Population Health Approach to Health Disparities for Nurses-Care of Vulnerable Populations.” The chapter begins with our Chief, Gary Batton, speaking about the Choctaw people’s experience and how we are overcoming Historical Trauma to become stronger, healthier people.

Some of our Choctaw Health Care System Departments have received new accreditations, including the Breast Cancer & Cancer Survivorship Clinic – Center of Excellence and the Diabetes Program – Center of Excellence.

For all the reasons mentioned above and many more, the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority is proving to be one of the best healthcare providers in the area. The Choctaw Nation is very lucky to have these professionals working for our tribal members daily to provide top-quality health care and services. Please join me in saying Yakoke to our wonderful team of healthcare professionals!