The Cherokee Nation celebrated the completion of a $30 million expansion to the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell Monday.
The expansion added 80,000 square feet of new space for more services to care for the thousands of Cherokee citizens who utilize the health center each year.
“We have many bright days ahead in the Cherokee Nation because of the choices we are making investing in our people and the communities where they live,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said “We are doubling the size of this great health center which reflects the priorities of the Cherokee Nation are where they need to be-- not just now, not just in this term, but over a period of time because we believe in investing in things that build a great society—key among them making health care accessible for all of our people.”
The Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the country with more than 1.3 million patient visits per year. The Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center is the third largest of the tribally operated outpatient health centers and is named in honor of the late Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller.
“I hope we all possess an ounce of Wilma Mankiller’s spirit. Chief Mankiller had the drive, grit and determination and fueled a world in which the Cherokee people took control of our health care destiny,” Chief Hoskin said of her legacy.
The two-story addition expanded the health center’s dental, optometry and pharmacy services among other areas. The expansion also allows room for future growth.
“Our Cherokee citizens seek health care from the Cherokee Nation because its world class care and they have built trust in our services,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “Growth is a good problem to have and this expansion not only will help us serve more of our people with the services they need, but also allow us to plan for future needs.”
The completed Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center now has a total of approximately 110,000 square feet. The construction project included the demolition of an original 37,000-square-foot portion of the facility that was built in 1994. The expansion attaches to the east wing of an existing facility that was added to the health center in 2015.
“Throughout COVID and the (expansion) construction., a lot of our citizens had to travel to Tahlequah or Sallisaw for some services,” said Shawn Crittenden, Council of the Cherokee Nation for District 8. “This expansion means health care, dental, vision is all right here at home in Stilwell. We are just as excited as the citizens.”
The health center supports a variety of services including primary care, pediatrics, physical therapy, mammography, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, pharmacy, laboratory, nutrition, WIC, contract health and diabetes care.
“This is a tremendous resource. To double the size speaks volumes to what the Council of the Cherokee Nation, Administration and the Cherokee Nation is working towards, which is caring about the health of our citizens and people in the community of Adair County,” said Joshua Sam, Council of the Cherokee Nation for District 7.
In 2021, Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center saw more than 134,000 ambulatory care visits and filled nearly 200,000 prescriptions.
It is named in honor of the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Members of the Mankiller family were also on hand for the expansion celebration.