News Release

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

After making an official invitation to the Indian Health Service, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben has welcomed Indian Health Service (IHS) Nashville Area Director Dr. Beverly Cotton and her team including a Critical Response Team (CRT), who will work over the next 10-days at Choctaw Health Center (CHC). The newly formed four-member Critical Response Team consists of nurses, doctors and other heathcare professionals who have worked tirelessly in COVID hot zones such as New York City and Atlanta. The Critical Response Team was established by Indian Health Service and Dr. Juantina Johnson, Indian Health Service Nashville Area Chief Medical Officer in her role as the Chief Clinical Consultant for Critical Care, who is here coordinating the team’s deployment.

Pictured: Dr. William Lange, Travis Taylor, Mary Harrison, Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben, Dr. Beverly Cotton, Bert Istra, and Harold Edouard.

Pictured: Dr. William Lange, Travis Taylor, Mary Harrison, Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben, Dr. Beverly Cotton, Bert Istra, and Harold Edouard.

“I fully support the Choctaw Health Center COVID Team and every employee at the Choctaw Health Center. Our daily numbers continue to concern me, and we are committed to providing every resource available to help our Choctaw people during this time,” said Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben. “This Critical Response Team is here to help us provide the best care for our people. The Choctaw Health Center team and the Critical Response Team will work together to curb the impact of COVID in our communities. I continue to encourage our community members to do their part in taking precautionary measures and be supportive of each other. We are all in this together. As we bring this additional assistance to Choctaw Health Center, we need the public to renew their efforts in taking the necessary precautions to rid the COVID virus from our lands.”

"The Indian Health Service is responding to COVID-19 with an all hands on deck approach to assist the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in the battle against COVID-19,” said Indian Health Service Nashville Area Director Dr. Beverly Cotton. “The critical response team will further enhance the care at Choctaw Health Center by giving additional support to frontline health care workers. The additional expert care support will assist Choctaw Health Center to provide the most vulnerable patients the greatest chance of survival. Choctaw people can rest assured that they will receive the best care available at their own hospital."

“Like the rest of this country and world COVID is a new virus and our Choctaw people have been greatly impacted,” said Choctaw Health Center Interim Director Mary Harrison. “Choctaw Health Center and our Tribal Leaders have taken the necessary steps to minimize physical movement and educate the public on COVID. It is devastating to know we have a high case and mortality rate due to this virus. Choctaw Health Center healthcare team is committed to the response efforts in our Tribal communities. Our partners from Indian Health Service is an extension of support to bring about the best care for those we serve. I am very appreciative to have Dr. Beverly Cotton, her team and now the Critical Response Team to strengthen our organizations capacity and provide additional support to our frontline healthcare worker and to our Choctaw community.”

Tribal Chief Ben added, “I want to thank Dr. Beverly Cotton, her staff, Dr. Johnson and the Indian Health Service Critical Response Team for coming here to assist our Choctaw people.”

The Indian Health Service Critical Response Team here at Choctaw Health Center are Dr. William Lange, emergency and critical care; Bert Istra, critical care nurse; Travis Taylor, critical care nurse and Harold Edouard, respiratory therapist. The Critical Response Team will treat patients, expand capacity and train our frontline health care professionals on the most current information for the management of COVID patients.

About Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, under the leadership of Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben, has an enrolled membership of more than 11,100 people and is the only federally recognized Tribe in the State of Mississippi. Headquartered in Choctaw, Miss., the Tribe has emerged as a leader in economic development. The Tribe provides a range of governmental services including schools, a hospital, medical clinics, police and fire protection, courts, and a center for the elderly, among many others.

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