As residents of Norman and the Cleveland County area consider health care options, one that may often be overlooked is a tribal care facility.

A common misconception may be that medical clinics owned by Oklahoma tribal nations do not serve everyone, but in June 2014 the Chickasaw Nation opened its newest clinic in Norman to serve the general public.

Sovereign Medical Clinic and Pharmacy, located at 2080 State Highway 9 West, serves Norman, Purcell, Goldsby, Newcastle and surrounding communities, according to Shaunra Blundell, vice president of media relations at Koch Communications.

Blundell said the new facility is approximately 13,700 square feet and includes 14 exam rooms, an in-house laboratory and retail pharmacy with a two-lane drive thru.

“Clinic services at the Norman facility include medical care, as well as laboratory and radiology capabilities. These services, along with our extended hours, enable us to serve patients’ family practice needs, as well as urgent care needs,” she said.

A rundown of services include urgent care and pharmacy, general family practice, illness, minor injury, wellness visits, flu shots and immunizations, physicals, onsite lab and X-ray and electrocardiogram.

“In addition, Sovereign Pharmacy provides convenience in prescription filling while patients wait, as well as easy refill services via an online refill service, as well as a mobile app,” Blundell said.

Chickasaw Nation broke ground on the property in November 2012 and opened in June 2014.

“We are committed to the growth of the economy and are thrilled that the clinic has a staff of approximately 30 people,” she said.

Sovereign Medical Solutions was actually established in 2010 and was created to meet the needs of Chickasaw Nation employees and family members, as well as the general public, Blundell said.

Chickasaw Nation opened its first family practice clinic in Ada in 2011 and began to leverage its health care expertise to establish businesses in the health care industry. The operations created additional business opportunities for the Chickasaw Nation.

“Our goal is to provide convenient, high-quality health care clinics and pharmacy services to everyone,” Blundell said.

There is also a health care clinic in the Norman/Little Axe area that previously served a very specific tribal population, but when a new facility opened 2012 they also opened up to other populations.

The Absentee Shawnee Tribe Health Clinic, located at 15951 Little Axe Drive, opened their new 75,000 square foot facility near Thunderbird Casino.

“Our health program started out small. We began in 1994 and we had a small, probably 8,000 to 9,000 square foot facility,” said Ali Miller, project manager of strategic communications coordinator of the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health System.

When they first began, they only offered services to AST members and other Native Americans in the area. Now they see all AST members, members of federally-recognized American Indian Tribes/Nations, Alaskan Natives, Soonercare members and insured AST employees.

The AST Health Care System now has two clinics, one in Shawnee and the larger “home-base” in Norman, Miller said. They offer primary medical care, have a pharmacy that’s specific to their native population, behavioral health services and even dental services.

“We have about 16 (dental) chairs and one is handicap accessible,” Miller said. “I think it might be the only one in the state.”

Optometry, diabetes wellness and same-day clinic services are also on the long list they now have to offer.

“We’ve definitely expanded our services,” she said.

Miller said they have seen a clear need for the services they offer, too.

“A majority of our pool that we do serve are low-income,” she said, adding that while some healthcare providers don’t want to see the Medicaid population, they welcome them.

Having the University of Oklahoma nearby has also brought in students from different states and tribes, many of whom may or may not have insurance, she said.

The AST’s mission statement says it all: “We provide a culturally-sensitive, quality health care system for American Indians and Alaska Natives, which leads to health promotion and disease prevention through a multi-disciplinary team using holistic and evidence-based practices that address all health issues and educational needs while protecting individual confidentiality.”

For more information about the Absentee Shawnee Tribe Health Clinic, visit asthealth.org, or for more information about Sovereign Medical Clinic and Pharmacy, visit sovereignmedicalclinic.com

Jessica Bruha366-3540bruha@normantranscript.comFollow me @JBruhaTNT

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