Cherokee Nation Expands Redbird Smith Health Center


Construction to add 30,000 square feet and renovate existing 11,000-square-foot annex

Cherokee Nation and its business arm, Cherokee Nation Businesses, are overhauling the tribe’s health system, starting with an expansion to nearly double the size of the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw. It will create additional space for patient care and expand health services to tribal citizens.

“There is no issue more important to the Cherokee Nation than access to quality health care. Without your health, you have nothing,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker in a press release. “Our objective is to bring world-class care to our people by expanding our facilities and offering more services. It is the right investment today for the future of the Cherokee Nation.”

The $11 million project adds 30,000 square feet to the center’s annex and renovates the existing 11,000 square feet. The annex is located behind the original health center, which is also under renovation.

"This is a great day for the Cherokee Nation. This expansion shows what the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and Principal Chief can accomplish by working together,” said Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright. “This is the first of several clinic expansions, new health centers and a hospital that are going to be built. I would like to thank the staff at Redbird Smith Health Center for working within cramped conditions and the patients who have dealt with those conditions. We are all working to rectify the situation by building a newer and bigger facility.”

The added space allows for services such as dental and pediatrics to greatly expand. To help maintain efficiency, each doctor gains an additional exam room, and the in-house pharmacy will add drive- thru service.

“We have seen demand for access to quality health care increase significantly in this area,” said Connie Davis, director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. “We are committed to providing the best care possible for Cherokees in each of our communities, and this expansion is a great first step. These improvements ensure that we continue on our path to becoming the provider of choice for northeast Oklahoma.”

Last year, the health center supported more than 130,000 patient visits. After construction is complete, health officials say the facility should be capable of serving an additional 15,000 patient visits each year.

With more than 100 employees, the center provides a range of health services, including primary care, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, pharmacy with mail order, laboratory, nutrition, WIC, contract health, diabetes care, pediatrics, outpatient services, health promotion and disease prevention.

The Redbird Smith Health Center is the first of four health centers and one hospital slated for expansion or replacement under the tribe’s recently announced $100 million health care improvement plan. The plan, funded by the tribe’s businesses, includes brand-new health centers in Jay and Ochelata, expansions in Stilwell and Sallisaw, and a new hospital in Tahlequah.

Cherokee Nation Construction Resources, a division of CNB’s environmental and construction portfolio, is managing the construction of the health system expansion.

Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the United States, which supported 1.2 million patient visits in 2012. It consists of eight health centers throughout the Cherokee Nation and W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.