Three Rivers Health Center Opens

Thursday, February 7th 2008, 10:24 pm
By: News On 6

The Cherokee Nation celebrates Thursday's opening of the Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports the facility measures 100,000 square feet and had a price tag of $25 million.

The sleek, new building couldn't be more state-of-the-art, but it also pays tribute to the past.  The first thing you notice, of course, is that it is big.

"We have a small facility here in Muskogee.  It's about 20,000 square feet.  This is five times that," said Cherokee Chief Chad Smith.

Chief Chad Smith says they can now serve more people and offer more services than before like podiatry, dental, and optometry.

"Not only is it a health facility, it's a community facility," said Chief Chad Smith.  "We can block off the medical wings, so evening people can come and have language classes, assemblies, community meetings."

Those who are up on the Cherokee history will immediately notice some architectural touches, the most significant of which are the brick columns along the front.

"The columns emulate the male and female seminary columns.  The golden age of the Cherokee Nation, 1860 to 1880," said Cherokee Chief Chad Smith.

The golden age symbolically.  But, the nation has never been more financially healthy than it is now, and that has translated to its new medical facilities.

"Gaming operations allow us to do more and better things for our people.  Because of the financial health of our gaming operations, we were able to get a very good rating on construction bonds for this facility," said Cherokee Chief Chad Smith.

The center is so nice they anticipate people might even drive farther to go here instead of their usual clinic.

"Which is a good shift because those facilities are overloaded.  It'll be good for them and good for here, too," said Melissa Gower with Cherokee Nation Health Services.

The center will serve a member of any federally recognized Indian tribe.  It's set to open on February 25th.