March 9, 2018
Final steel beam erected during topping out ceremony
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The final steel beam of the W.W. Hastings expansion project was hoisted into place Friday, completing the facility’s massive four-story steel frame in Tahlequah.
The Cherokee Nation celebrated the facility’s construction progress with a topping out ceremony, attended by more than 300 tribal, federal, state and health officials.
When the 469,000-square-foot outpatient health facility opens in 2019, it will be the largest health center operated by the Cherokee Nation and the largest tribal health facility in the country.
Leaders from Indian Health Service Headquarters in Maryland to Hastings Hospital doctors and nurses autographed the final beam during the ceremony to leave their mark on the historic facility.
“We’ve completed a historic milestone in the development of our health care expansion efforts at the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus in Tahlequah, and we remain on target to open in 2019. It will be the largest tribal health care facility ever built in the United States,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Communities across America would love to have this kind of local economic impact we are having in northeast Oklahoma. Hundreds of new health care employment opportunities will be created, not to mention all the construction and contracting jobs. When complete, we will be able to offer the kind of world-class health care our people deserve.”
More than 30 departments will relocate to the new outpatient facility, including pharmacy, primary care, dental, laboratory, and rehabilitation and wellness. The facility will house 240 exam rooms, an ambulatory surgery center with five surgical suites and two endoscopy suites. It will also include a specialty clinic with cardiologists and more orthopedics, a dental clinic with 35 chairs, 16 eye-exam rooms, three audiology testing booths, and diagnostic imaging, including MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds.
The new outpatient facility will create more than 850 health care jobs.
“Patient care is a top priority for the Cherokee Nation, and this state-of-the-art medical facility will allow us to offer an even higher level of care,” said Dr. Charles Grim, acting executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. “The project could not have taken place without the partnership of Indian Health Service, our tribal administration and council, Cherokee Nation Businesses, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, contractors and many dedicated health employees.”
Located next to the existing W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, the outpatient facility exterior will feature natural lighting, wood and stone. It will include traditional design elements such as abstract floor patterns that represent the reed used in traditional Cherokee basketry and an east-facing entrance.
The building is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project, maximizing cost saving and energy efficiency.
“From breaking ground on this project a year ago to celebrating its steel frame now in place, we continue to see the advancement of our health care system for Cherokee Nation citizens,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This outpatient health facility will fulfill citizens’ health needs and create new jobs in the process, something we can all be proud of.”
Construction of the facility is managed by Cooper Flintco and Cherokee Nation Businesses, and the design is by Childers Architects.
When W.W. Hastings Hospital was built in Tahlequah in 1986, it was built for 60,000 patient visits per year.
In fiscal year 2017, W.W. Hastings had more than 421,000 patient visits, delivered more than 900 babies and filled over a million prescriptions.
In 2015, the Cherokee Nation was awarded an Indian Health Service joint venture project. In an agreement between the tribe and federal government, the Cherokee Nation pays for the facility construction and medical equipment, while IHS covers operations and staffing costs of the facility.