By Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — In dramatic fashion the need for health care was demonstrated just minutes before a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday morning at the Chickasaw Nation’s new Sovereign Medical Clinic, 2080 State Highway 9 West.
Scores of attendees witnessed a loud and damaging two vehicle collision approximately 30 yards from where they were assembled. Without hesitation a dozen Chickasaw dignitaries, employees and clinic medical personnel rushed to the far side of the highway to render assistance. Police already on site helped a driver from her automobile and she was quickly evacuated by ambulance.
With that calamity fresh in mind, all reconvened for Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby’s remarks about the nation’s newest comprehensive medical and urgent care clinic, pharmacy and gift shop. It’s less than a mile west of the nation’s Riverwind Casino. The 14,000 square foot clinic is expected to employ 30 people. It will service anyone with or without tribal affiliation who is in need of medical care starting June 29.
The clinic will offer more
tangible evidence of the Chickasaw commitment to Oklahoma’s economy. Tribal records boast of a $2.4 billion positive impact in the state in 2011. Their employment numbers rank right up with Federal government jobs in Oklahoma, weighing in at seventh largest with nearly 13,000 on their payroll.
Gathered under white tents for Anoatubby’s dedication were tribal legislators, employees and elders.
“This new clinic is important to the Chickasaw nation as well as the surrounding community,” he said. “It’s an exciting day because health care is one of the top priorities for our nation.”
Anoatubby observed that the new clinic isn’t just for Chickasaw folks; it’s to serve the general public as well. The Norman facility is in addition to one in Ada that saw more than 7,000 patients last year as well as filling around 28,000 prescriptions.
“Just like in Ada, this new one will focus on primary and preventive care for the northern portion of the Chickasaw nation,” Anoatubby said. “Services include family practice, urgent care, on-site lab and radiology abilities, full service pharmacy with drive-through, thirteen exam rooms and a procedure room.”
To the crowd’s amusement, Anoatubby mentioned that Bedré chocolates are available in the gift shop. The confections are produced by a Chickasaw enterprise in Davis.
“That’s good chocolate,” he said. “Along with the health and well-being of our employees, economic development is important to us. They are integral to enhancing the overall quality of life for the Chickasaw people.”
Anoatubby related continuing economic advancement to increased progressive and innovative services for the nation. He held one index finger high and observed that some there may not know its meaning.
“Within our ranks we are one tribe and have one mission and that is to enhance the overall quality of life for our people,” Anoatubby said. “We are proud of the work that our staff and employees do and we strive to insure that everyone involved is appreciated and cared for by the Chickasaw nation.”
The Sovereign Medical clinic is an impressive structure inside and out. A stainless steel and natural stone exterior is attractively landscaped with variegated and red flowering yucca plants. The pleasant waiting room continues a southwest theme with dun colored chairs and soft recessed lighting. The festively decorated gift shop resembles the nearby casino’s with designer handbags, T-shirts, greeting cards, toys and candy.
Laboratory manager Staci Harris detailed various tests the clinic is capable of processing and the people they’re serving.
“Currently the majority of our patients have been Riverwind employees,” she said. “They are so happy for this facility to open because we are conveniently located for them.”
The casino employs approximately 1,000 and health care insurance is one of their benefits provided by the Chickasaw nation.
“Some of the Goldsby and Newcastle casino employees have come here as well,” Harris said.
She expects to serve residents of Norman, Lexington, Blanchard and Noble along with nearby rural areas.
“We’re in a good location,” she said. “And we have good equipment for doing chemistry profiles among other things.”
“Right now our capability is for modality X-rays,” Radiology manager Lindsay Niles said. “In the future hopefully we’ll have CT, MR and ultrasound.”
Fracture images burned to CD along with a report can be provided to patients referred out to orthopedic specialists.
“Our equipment is digital, reducing patient exposure to radiation,” she said. What Niles enjoys most about her job meshes seamlessly with the mission as defined by Gov. Anoatubby. “I love interacting with my patients,” she said.
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