Secretary of Health provides health update and welcomes back employees
By Lani Hansen, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– On June 1 Muscogee (Creek) Nation employees returned back to work after working from home since March.
According to Secretary of Health for the MCN Department of Health (DOH) Shawn Terry, employees of DOH returned back to normal work hours in the last week of May but lobbies have remained closed to patients. Since the virus is still in effect, the DOH is only seeing certain patients to restrict traffic to the facility.
“The tribe then started its return to work with their employees, bringing all the essential and non-essential programs,” Terry said. “Before bringing the employees back the first thing we did was, an assessment of all the work areas looking at what we needed to adjust for social distancing. We also made sure all santitations procedures were in place and cleaning appropriately.”
All the facilities are being cleaned and santitized at a hospital level. Employees have returned to work but lobbies remain closed to the public until further notice.
With the return of employees, Chief David Hill enacted the protect our people document which is an addition to the state of emergency order. When the state was opening up Chief Hill wanted to continue for Creek Nation to have the document to be cautious as the Nation opened back up.
“The protect our people document sets out guidelines that the DOH help put together with CDC guidelines,” Terry said. “The guidelines continues to give our offices and operations the things they need to do to keep themselves safe. It also gives guidance to the general public on who are at high risk. Chief Hill titled this operation protect our people.”
Now that employees have returned back to work, before entering the building each employee must have their temperature checked.
“We have purchased thermometors for all of our operations, which are placed at each worksite,” Terry said. “Once the temperature is checked and it is in the appropriate range, then a form is provided to make sure none of the employees has been exposed.”
With increased numbers on COVID-19 cases statewide, in the MCN health system there has been 17 tested positive out of 962 who have been tested since the tribe has re-opened.
“There has been a slight increase, but overall we have been lucky that we haven’t had the rapid outbreak we have seen in some places across the country,” Terry said.
There are three types of testing MCN health provides; Abbott’s 24-hour test which is an invasive nasal swab where the results are returned within 24 hours. The second one is Abbott’s rapid test which is another nasal swab but less invasive, this test is available at the medical center, Creek Nation Community Hospital, Sapulpa Indian Health Center and Koweta Indian Health Center. The last test is the antibody test which is done by blood draw which is available at Koweta and Okmulgee.
MCN employees continue to practice social distancing while at work, being back helps MCN health monitor the employees symptoms every day.
“We are in a better position today to know how this virus spreads, and we’ve been able to adjust our business to make sure we can keep people safe,” Terry stated.
Terry shared that everyone should continue following CDC guidelines and recommendations such as washing your hands, wear a mask in areas filled with people, practice social distancing and be aware of your surroundings.