MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 8, 2012

TCH seeks $9M in loans for expansion

Majority of money would be used to open dialysis clinic in Sallisaw

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Tahlequah Hospital Authority officials plan to ask the Tahlequah City Council on Monday to approve refinancing more than $2 million on an existing project and approve an additional $7 million loan for dialysis services.

Tahlequah City Hospital President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Woodliff said the money, if approved, would go to several projects.

City officials will consider the request to approve the loans from Arvest Bank at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

“This money ($2,516,043) will help to refinance the medical office building we built,” he said. “That will help us avoid some service fees that we can put toward medical services instead. The larger amount ($7,051,887) will help expand our dialysis services in Tahlequah, but the biggest part goes to services in Sallisaw.”

Tahlequah City Hospital and the Cherokee Nation have been working for a few years to bring a dialysis clinic to Sallisaw.

The clinic, constructed in 2011, is expected to open in January as the Renal and Hypertension Institute of Northeast Oklahoma. It is adjacent to Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw.

The building has been used by the Cherokee Nation as clinical space, but it is being readied for dialysis patients, according to a media release.

Woodliff said the dialysis project in Sallisaw is meant to also help many patients in outlying counties, many of whom must drive daily to Tulsa, Muskogee or Tahlequah for dialysis.

Cherokee Nation officials and Woodliff expressed excitement about the impending opening of the center.

“There are 20 million Americans who suffer from kidney disorders,” Woodliff said. “I am proud to partner with the Cherokee Nation, who has a vision to address these health issues.”

Tribal Councilors Janelle Lattimore-Fullbright and David Thornton Sr. were co-sponsors of the Cherokee Nation resolution establishing the center on the Cherokee Nation site.

“This center is one of the reasons I ran for the Tribal Council,” Lattimore-Fullbright said in the release. “This is a dream come true.”

Thornton agreed.

“In 2000, I had eight friends who were on dialysis, and none of them are here with us today,” he said. “I watched them have to travel long distances, and it was a hardship on them and their families for them to receive the care they needed. I am glad we are now able to provide this service to others.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.