TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. has named Dr. R. Stephen Jones, of Tahlequah, as Executive Director of Health Services. The promotion of Dr. Jones follows changes to Cherokee Nation Health Services’ employee organization structure, implemented to better focus on customer service and patient advocacy within the tribe’s health facilities.
Under the reorganization, Cherokee Nation Health Services leadership roles, functions and duties have been restructured with a team approach to meet the needs of patients, including reducing patient wait times and improving patient access to health care.
Chief Hoskin first announced plans for the health system’s reorganization in November 2019 during the opening of the new 469,000-square-foot Cherokee Nation outpatient health center in Tahlequah.
“When I took office in August, I knew I wanted our Cherokee citizens to not only receive the best health care right here in the Cherokee Nation, but also with top-of-the-line customer service and reduced patient wait times,” Chief Hoskin said. “With the opening of the largest health facility in the U.S. to be operated by a tribe, we have enhanced our health care infrastructure. Now, with these patient advocacy-focused positions in place and with the promotion of Dr. Jones to Executive Director, we can continue with our momentum in providing tribal citizens the highest quality health care, all in a timely manner.”
The changes include several new positions such as deputy directors for internal and external operations, medical records director, pharmacy director, senior director of behavioral health and more.
“We are blessed to have such an experienced and committed staff to take the lead on important initiatives such as improving our patients’ access to health care and reducing the amount of time they wait to be seen during a visit to one of our Cherokee Nation health centers,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “I believe this leadership team will make positive progress for our health system in the coming months and years.”
Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the country with more than 1.3 million patient visits per year at its W.W. Hastings Hospital, the outpatient health center on the Hastings campus and eight other outlying health centers.
“I would like to thank Chief Hoskin and his administration for their continued support and confidence in me through this transition from interim to permanent Executive Director of Health Services. I will continue striving to achieve the goals of increased access and expansion of core services for all Cherokee citizens, while focusing on our vision of healthy Cherokee people, families and communities for this and future generations,” Jones said. “With that vision in mind Cherokee Nation Health has reorganized the administrative and clinical leadership in an effort to create a consistent system-wide approach to process improvement. To further expand our external partnerships there will be two Deputy Directors of Health. One will focus on internal operations and the other will focus on external operations. Collaboration and communication between senior directors, medical directors and administration will help to ensure processes are consistent for each facility throughout the Cherokee Nation which in turn will lead to improved efficiency and patients’ access to services.”
The tribe’s new four-story outpatient health center opened its doors in October. The state-of the-art-facility includes optometry, audiology, physical rehabilitation, behavioral health, radiology, lab, pharmacy services, primary care, dental and a resident clinic, as well as 240 exam rooms, an ambulatory surgery center and two MRI machines.
The Cherokee Nation Health Services reorganization includes:
- Deputy Executive Director of External Operations Brian Hail
- Deputy Executive Director of Internal Operations Wayne Coldwell
- Senior Director of Clinical Administration for the Outpatient Health Center Charles Smith
- Deputy Clinic Administrator for the Outpatient Health Center Keeli Duncan
- Deputy Clinic Administrator for the Outpatient Health Center Chandler Welch
- Senior Clinic Administrator Elton Sunday
- Senior Director of Health Business Operations Jason Loepp
- Senior Dental Director Josh Looney
- Medical Records Director Lewanda Teehee
- Clinic Administrator for Three River Health Center Cindy Martin
- Pharmacy Director Kari Barrett
- Senior Director of Hospital Administration for W. W. Hastings Hospital Kim Chuculate
- Tahlequah Campus Medical Director Dr. Sharon Smallwood
- Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center Medical Director Dr. James Stallcup
- Senior Director of Behavior Health Juli Skinner
- Senior Director of Finance Ami Sams
- Director of Health Service Education and Staff Development Michelle Graham
- Deputy Clinic Administrator for W.W. Hastings Hospital MaKenley Barton
- Senior Director of Contract Health Steve Carey
- Director of Laboratory Services Ashley Grant
- Senior Director of Nursing Rebecca Shepherd
- Director of Physician Practice Management Crosby Caughron