TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is launching its “We Heart our Cherokee Health Heroes” Appreciation week after Valentine’s Day to applaud the brave efforts of the nearly 2,600 tribal health employees and their work this past year to combat COVID-19.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. will sign a proclamation Monday dedicating the week of Feb. 15-19 as “We Heart our Cherokee Health Heroes” week in the Cherokee Nation.
“Much of Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 outcome and vaccine rollout success that we’re seeing is thanks to our health care workers who have stepped up to the call to service during this pandemic and to whom we are truly grateful,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We cannot express how truly deserving this group of employees is during our most critical hours.”
Cherokee Nation Businesses’ board of directors and management team donated funds to purchase every single tribal health employee a meal to be delivered to all tribal health centers.
“On behalf of Cherokee Nation Businesses’ Board of Directors and employees, we would like to personally thank Cherokee Nation’s health care employees for their service and sacrifices made during this pandemic,” said Chuck Garrett, Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses.
The Cherokee Nation also implemented hazard pay for its health employees to thank them for putting themselves at risk to help thousands of tribal citizens.
“The 2020 year was full of unprecedented events for our health system and while I know we all are looking forward to a much brighter year ahead, I have to thank our team for handling the constant changes and challenges better than any of us could have expected. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished in our COVID-19 efforts and as we have continued to care for our patients’ needs both COVID related and not,” CNHS Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones said. “From starting off the year in a new Outpatient Health Center, to adapting to the community needs in regards to testing and supporting national recommendations, to opening vaccine clinics our health system has achieved national recognition. The pandemic has shown us what we can do as a team, how we can always look for ways to improve ourselves and just how important our role is in our communities. This is what makes CNHS special and this uniqueness has proven to be our strength.”
Since March 16, 2020, when Chief Hoskin declared a state of public emergency in the Cherokee Nation due to COVID-19, Cherokee Nation’s health employees have performed the following:
- Administered 101,233 COVID tests
- Administered more than 17,000 vaccinations
- About 78,000 telehealth appointments
- Made more than 150,000 contact tracing calls
- Answered 90,000 COVID-19 hotline calls
- Transitioned from regular job duties to help with essential COVID needs
Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the country treating about 1.3 million patient visits per year through its Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital and Outpatient Health Facility in Tahlequah and outlying clinics in Muskogee, Vinita, Ochelata, Nowata, Salina, Jay, Stilwell and Sallisaw.