Dr. Charles Grim. Photo: Anadisgoi / Cherokee Nation
Health | National

Cherokee Nation promotes citizen to top job within health department

The Cherokee Nation has promoted one of its own to lead the tribe's growing health enterprise.

Dr. Charles Grim is the new executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. Chief Bill John Baker announced the appointment on Wednesday.

“As an administrator, Dr. Grim is uniquely qualified to lead our health department and ensure we provide the best health care possible for Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma,” Baker said in a press release. “Today, Cherokee Nation’s health system is more proficient and responsive than ever, and Dr. Grim understands the treatment and prevention needs of our people. His experience, leadership and expertise have paved the way for health care that will meet the diverse needs of the Cherokee Nation going forward.”

Grim has served as deputy director for health since 2009. In his new post, he succeeds Connie Davis, who stepped down in November.

“I feel very honored to be appointed this role and for the opportunity to continue to lead a team that I have held close to my heart for a number of years,” Grim said.

Cherokee Nation on YouTube: W.W. Hastings Expansion Topping Out Ceremony

Grim started working for the tribe after serving as director of the Indian Health Service. He served a three-year term and was on his way to a second term before he withdrew his nomination, which was a first at the time for the federal agency.

Cherokee Nation Health Services is the largest Indian health care system in the country, according to the tribe. More than 1.2 million patients are served every year at the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah and eight clinic in northeastern Oklahoma.

The tribe has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the system, including a $150 million expansion of W.W. Hastings. When completed next year, the 469,000 square-foot facility will be the largest tribal hospital in the United States.

"We want all our patients — Cherokees as well as other Natives in northeast Oklahoma — to live healthier lives," Baker wrote in his Notes from the Chief column in February.

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