June 15, 2017
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Health Services recently received the Public Health Innovation Award from the National Indian Health Board at a national conference earlier this month.
The Public Health Innovation Award is given annually to the tribal government, individual, organization or program that best exemplifies the advancement of public health for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.
The tribe was recognized for their efforts at the 8th Annual National Tribal Public Health Summit in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Cherokee Nation Health Services strives to be a leader in health care throughout Indian Country,” said Connie Davis, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. “On behalf of our Cherokee Nation Health Services employees, I thank the National Indian Health Board for this honor. It’s truly humbling for our team to receive this recognition, and I commend each and every one of our employees who make Cherokee Nation Health Services a first-class department.”
The tribe’s Public Health department educates citizens on healthy eating and exercise habits, and also addresses common challenges like alcohol and tobacco use awareness within the tribe.
Senior Director of Public Health Lisa Pivec accepted the award and spoke about building public health infrastructure.
“The most rewarding aspect of the recognition is knowing we are honoring those who have gone before us to ensure we have this great Cherokee Nation to protect and preserve,” Pivec said. “I believe that any successes are the result of the work of so many citizens over the years, people devoted to paving the way for our next generations.”
Last year, Pivec was also recognized by the NIHB with their area impact award. The award highlighted her impact on the tribe’s growing public health program since 1994, when Pivec helped start Cherokee Nation’s Healthy Nation program.
“Lisa led the development of public health at Cherokee Nation from its infancy, and the tribal nation is now the first Public Health Accreditation Board-accredited tribal public health system,” the NIHB said in a statement about the nomination. “Now, Cherokee citizens consider the vast number of prevention programs she developed as a part of their daily activities. Along with her staff, Lisa has created great changes in health among the Cherokee people she serves.”
In addition to presenting awards for public health innovation and area impact, the NIHB works with tribes on advocacy, training and legislation to better Native health care.
“Public health is about addressing the social determinants of health and strengthening the environments where we live, work, play, learn and worship,” Pivec said. “I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve and do work that doesn’t feel like a job but more like a life purpose.”
Cherokee Nation Health Services operates the largest tribally run health system in the country, with more than a million patient visits in 2016. It consists of eight health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.