Cherokee Nation among seven tribes in IHS construction program

The W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Photo from Cherokee Nation

The Indian Health Service has restarted the Joint Venture Construction Program thanks to the efforts of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act authorizes the IHS to enter into agreements with tribes for new health facilities. The tribes are required to acquire, construct, or renovate a facility and lease it to the IHS, which would then be responsible for providing the operating costs.

The program, however, hadn't been used in several years. So the Cherokee Nation had to lobby federal officials and members of Congress in order to get the IHS back on track.

“We needed all hands on deck,” Chief Bill John Baker told The Tulsa World. “The tribal council, our government relations team, our health-care leaders. Everybody went to work.”

The effort paid off when the IHS selected the Cherokee Nation and six other tribes for the program. The Cherokees will now build a new W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, the tribal capital.

“This will go down as one of the greatest days in the history of the modern Cherokee Nation,” Baker said on Thursday. “Our partnership with IHS will improve the health outcomes of Cherokees for the next two to three generations and beyond. It’s a proud, proud day in the Cherokee Nation.”

The tribe will spend $53.1 million on the new facility. The IHS will be responsible for about $30 million in annual operating costs.

Get the Story:
Cherokee Nation Awarded Indian Health Service Project (AP 1/16)
Cherokee Nation awarded Indian Health Service Joint Venture project (The Tahlequah Daily Press 1/16)
Cherokee Nation announces $30 million boost for new tribal hospital (The Tulsa World 1/16)

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