Creating greater access to health care sometimes can be as simple as extending hours at a clinic.
But increasing the hours of operation at the Three Rivers Health Center may turn out to be a profound move, too.
The Cherokee Nation decided to keep the clinic open to 8 p.m. weekdays.
Many individuals work 8-to-5 jobs.
That forces those individuals to take time off from work when they or their children are ill.
The additional hours will make 45 more appointments available per week, allowing the clinic to see about 1,500 more patients per year.
Some of these patients were going to emergency rooms because that was the only health care they could access on their off-work hours.
That’s not good for area hospitals.
The extended hours were tested last year.
“Our appointments filled up as soon we opened them,” nurse manager Lisa Woodworth said. “The patients that came in — some of them worked out of town — and they came in and said they wouldn’t have been able to be seen except for this ... evening clinic in the late hours.”
Only primary care is available during extended hours, but administrators said more services could see increased hours in the future.
Extending hours is a simple, but profound response to Native American patients’ needs.
WHAT: Three Rivers Health Center.
WHERE: 1001 S. 41st St., Muskogee.
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHO.: Members of federally recognized tribes who have a certificate of degree of Indian blood ( CDIB) card will be served, administrators said.
ETC.: Call (918) 781-6500 by 5 p.m. for appointments.