Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah City Hospital Partnering on Dialysis Center

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith speaks at the ground breaking in Sallisaw for the planned Renal and Hypertension Institute of Northeast Oklahoma. The center is a partnership effort between the Cherokee Nation and the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation.

Nearly 50 people braved cold temperatures Tuesday as the Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah City Hospital broke ground on a new dialysis center in Sallisaw.  The Renal and Hypertension Institute of Northeast Oklahoma is a partnership effort between the Cherokee Nation and the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation and will sit adjacent to the tribe’s Redbird Smith Health Center.


“Through the vision of both the Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah City Hospital we are able to offer quality care and improved services to those needing these types of services,” said Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.  “In Cherokee we have a word–gadugi–which means working together for the benefit of the community.  This center and this partnership is an example of that philosophy.”

The new center will provide much needed dialysis procedures to many living in a multi-county area, eliminating the need for the individuals and their families to travel far distances to larger cities.

Tribal Councilors Janelle Lattimore-Fullbright and David Thornton, Sr., both expressed enthusiasm about the groundbreaking of the center.  Both were co-sponsors of the Cherokee Nation resolution establishing the center on the Cherokee Nation site.

“This center is one of the reasons I ran for the Tribal Council,” Fullbright said.  “This is greatly needed and I am so excited to be here today.  This is a dream come true.”

Thornton agreed, saying he has waited for this day for a long time.

“In 2000, I had eight friends who were on dialysis, and none of them are here with us today.  I watched them have to travel long distances and it was a hardship on them and their families for them to receive the care they needed.  I am glad we are now able to provide this service to others,” said Thornton.

Tahlequah City Hospital CEO Brian Woodliff said that the center will allow access to facilities to help curb the health burden of those living in northeastern Oklahoma.

“There are 20 million Americans who suffer from chronic kidney disorders.  I am proud to partner with the Cherokee Nation, who has a vision to address these health issues,” Woodliff said.

The center is scheduled to open sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2011.

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Posted December 7, 2010

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