OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee Nation held a formal ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly constructed 6,000 square-foot Behavioral Health Facility on Thursday May 12.
“We are pleased to be able to provide these much needed services,” Principal Chief David Hill said. “This is a superior facility and was built with the environment of care in mind.”
According to Secretary of Health Shawn Terry, the impact of the pandemic on Native American people conveyed a need for a space of this sort.
“The pandemic intensified the high rates of substance abuse, mental health disorders, suicide and behavior-related illnesses across the country, especially in our youth,” Terry said.
The facility will offer prevention and treatment services for substance abuse, family counseling, trauma, and suicide as well as education resources.
Terry said the Nation is dedicated to making resources and behavioral healthcare readily available for Native citizens.
“We know that we can save lives and improve health outcomes by continuing to prioritize behavioral health.”
In addition to more space, BHS has immediate plans to add a therapeutic playground for younger patients to promote processing and skill learning utilizing therapeutic techniques.
According to minorityhealth.hhs.gov, suicide was the second leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34 in 2019. American Indian/Alaska Natives are 60 percent more likely to experience the feeling that everything is an effort, all or most of the time, as compared to non-Hispanic whites
Surgeon General Lance Frye, M.D. claims that more than 50 percent of those who suffer from mental illness do not seek help.
“This is due to the stigma that surrounds the diagnosis and treatment for these illnesses,” Frye said.
According the Surgeon General, one should treat the medical treatment of mental illness and substance abuse the very same as a broken bone or other physical injury or sickness.
“The tribe is prioritizing mental health; we want to end the stigma now.”
Patients will now have an easy to find location where behavioral health services will be centralized at 2360 E. Highway 62 Okmulgee, Ok 74447.
Ground broke on facility in spring of last year after receiving the Indian Health Service Small Ambulatory Grant award of $2 million, with the Nation funding the remainder needed to complete the project.
NCA 21-089 authorized a ten percent budget modification for the MCNDH Facilities Management third party budget for FY 2021 to help cover the remaining costs.
Tribal Construction Director Steve Emerson said the new build sits on a 26-acre property bought by the Nation just a few years ago.
Formerly know as the Sewell property, it will serve as the Health Department’s Master Plan site to build new healthcare clinic centralizing all health care needs for the Okmulgee area, according to Emerson.
MCNBH offers services to members of any federally recognized tribe living within the Muscogee Reservation boundaries.
For more information about the programs and services visit www.creekhealth.org/services or call 918-758-1910.