DURANT – The Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations are taking historic steps to transfer full operation of a health clinic in Durant to the Choctaw Nation, tribal officials announced Thursday.
Currently, the Choctaw Nation owns the building, but the clinic is staffed by the Chickasaw Nation. The clinic’s operation will be entirely managed by the Choctaw Nation beginning Oct. 1, leaders of both tribes announced.
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton signed a memorandum of agreement in a ceremony held at Choctaw Nation Headquarters early this month.
The tribes’ partnership to provide quality health care to Native Americans began in 1996. The tribes agreed Choctaws would provide the facility and Chickasaws would staff it with medical professionals.
Beginning as a modular structure near Choctaw Nation Headquarters, the clinic was moved four years later to a larger building on Washington Street in Durant and the tribes continued the partnership.
“No matter how many clinics and hospitals we build there will always be the need for access to care,” Chief Batton said in a news release, adding as the Choctaw Nation plans health care expansions in the future, Gov. Anoatubby has pledged support and expertise from the Chickasaw Nation.
Gov. Anoatubby said the goal of the agreement is to provide the highest quality health care services possible.
“We’re brothers and sisters,” Gov. Anoatubby said of the two tribes. “We have a long, long relationship – a good one – and this is another step toward the Choctaw Nation operating the clinic and continuing to improve health care here. Today, we are commemorating that. We are certainly excited about what can happen for both Choctaw as well as Chickasaw citizens.”
As far as how the clinic will operate, patients will see little difference, according to Teresa Jackson, Senior Executive Officer for the division of health for the Choctaw Nation.
“The only immediate change patients will notice is the seal of the Choctaw Nation will be placed on the door. We are working very hard with Chickasaw health care leadership to make this as seamless a transition as possible,” Ms. Jackson said.
Of the 21 Chickasaw Nation employees working at the clinic, 18 will now go to work for the Choctaw Nation, Ms. Jackson said. Additionally, a staff pharmacist has worked for both tribes previously and “knows both protocols” so patients’ medicine and prescriptions will not be an issue, she added.