New Partnership Could Provide Better Healthcare For Cherokee Nation

Thursday, January 15th 2015, 9:29 pm
By: News On 6

A multi-million dollar deal will mean better healthcare for Cherokee tribal members. The tribe announced a new $30 million partnership Thursday with Indian Health Services.

Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker called it, "another step toward world class healthcare for the Cherokee people."

"I'm just overwhelmed at what this really is going to mean when the final T's are crossed and the I's are dotted. This is probably going to be the biggest deal in the Cherokee Nation in modern times," Baker said.

Thursday's announcement caps a two-year plan for the Cherokees to contribute $100 million from casino revenues to healthcare.

This new partnership between the tribe and Indian Health Services is another step towards expanding healthcare services to its citizens.

Connie Davis with Cherokee Nation Health Services said the partnership will help with operational costs and staffing.

"Half of our patients are uninsured, and having that burden to carry and trying to maintain a high quality of care it is a job, but this will take a huge burden off of our system and allow us to deliver a higher quality care to our patients," Davis said.

Along with plans to build a new hospital building the partnership will expand access to primary care, pediatrics and cardiology.

"If you double your docs you're going to shorten the line," said Baker.

Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden said, "I think this facility will serve many generations of Cherokees, improve lives and that's what it's all about in this business that we're in, is serving our people and making their lives better."

A more formal plan on what services and facilities will be built will be announced in a few weeks.