TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced Monday he’s implementing patient advocacy positions to focus on customer service and reduce patient wait times at Cherokee Nation Health facilities.

The announcement is part of Chief Hoskin’s first 100 days initiatives and comes on the first day the new Cherokee Nation outpatient health facility in Tahlequah opened to patients.

According to a recent Cherokee Nation study of patient health visits, the average Cherokee Nation citizen waited up to two hours from check-in to provider visit completion.

“With the opening of our new outpatient health facility which has more than 240 exam rooms and these patient advocates in place to help guide our citizens, we know we are on the right track to improving quality of care and achieving quicker wait times for our Cherokee people,” Chief Hoskin said.

The Cherokee Nation is implementing a staff reorganization within health with a team approach focused on customer service and patient advocacy. The initiative will also reduce the time patients wait for a scheduled visit as well as their time waiting to see the provider.

“Cherokee Nation is blessed with a dedicated team of health staff, an unmatched health infrastructure, and with an increased focus on patient care, we are setting the bar high in Indian Country,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said.

Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the country with more than 1.3 million patient visits per year.

The Cherokee Nation’s four-story, 469,000 square-foot outpatient health center on the Hastings campus opened its optometry, audiology, physical rehabilitation, behavioral health, radiology, lab and pharmacy services to patients on October 7.

Primary care, dental and resident clinic will open to patients in the new center on October 21. A grand opening ceremony is being planned for November 14.

Since being sworn into office in August, Chief Hoskin has also increased minimum wage at Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses to $11 an hour, launched a $30 million housing, jobs and sustainable communities’ initiative, invested $16 million into Cherokee language preservation and asserted a treaty right and appointed a Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress.