Byline: Braden Harper/Reporter
TVLSE, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek) Nation Council Oak Comprehensive Healthcare announced a new partnership with the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in a press conference luncheon on Oct. 12. The partnership would specifically work with the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. It will allow healthcare professionals from the school to practice medicine at Council Oak Comprehensive Healthcare. This will open a wider array of advanced surgical services the nation provides.
A grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has allowed the university to increase primary care services in tribal communities. The partnership will support medical training opportunities for resident trainees at Council Oak. Once residents finish their residency, they can open their own surgical clinics at the Council Oak Facility.
Leaders from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and OU broke bread together and met with one another to discuss their exciting new partnership.
Secretary of Health Shawn Terry was ecstatic to share the announcement after months of working closely with OU Leaders to finalize details. Terry would correspond on the phone with OU Leaders as much as three to four times a week to make sure no detail was left unattended.
“From now until the end of time, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will be here. From now until the end of time, the University of Oklahoma will be one of the top universities in Oklahoma. It only makes sense for this marriage to happen,” Terry said.
The partnership did not happen overnight. It was the result of collaboration stemming back to the Floyd Administration. According to OU President Joseph Harroz, it is not the first time OU has collaborated with the MCN, nor will it be the last time.
“They’re critical because they prepare future positions to treat the unique needs of Indigenous Populations and the unique impacts that are born by that population of individuals,” Larrez said. “The best kind of partnerships are those where each side of the partnerships is committed to doing more than the other.”
Between President Larrez and MCN Principal Chief David Hill, a recurring theme in their addresses was how successfully collaborating was in the best interest of everyone.
“It takes all of us. We all share the same priorities in life. The things that we hold priority most are our citizens and the health of our citizens,” Principal Chief Hill said.
MCN acquired the Council Oak Facility in Sept. 2021. The facility began providing monoclonal antibody treatments and worked closely with Tulsa City Leaders. Over the following year, MCN would open more specialty clinics, including neurology, pulmonology, and diabetes care. All of this amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“It became a community center for fighting COVID,” Terry said.
Over time, the facility would continue to expand its services and collaborate with other healthcare organizations. One of the most significant developments was the acquisition of a Da Vinci Surgical Robot. Terry said they expect to start performing procedures with the surgical robot by the first of the year once the healthcare staff has received training.
To utilize top-of-the-line equipment, you need top-of-the-line staff.
“At the core of all medicine is the relationship between the doctors and the patients,” Terry said. “At the core of getting physicians means you need a relationship with the medical schools.”
Council Oak’s location plays an immense significance in terms of how it can connect with essential services for citizens. It has also become an attractive employer in the healthcare industry.
“Being in Tulsa is a game changer; one of the limiting factors that we have in healthcare is the proximity to specialties,” Terry said. “Everyone (nurses and physicians) is running to us, wanting to become part of what we have over here.”
Although this is a big step for the nation’s healthcare services, it is only the beginning.
“As we stand here today, we are prepared to grow that partnership. I truly believe this is the first of many more steps. We are thrilled to engage in this partnership with surgery and bring that to this site that will help so many people.” President Harroz said.
With the new partnership, Council Oak Leaders were optimistic about what the future has in store for the nation as a model for providing expanded services for its citizens.