Photo by Waddel Hearn Jr./Choctaw Nation
Construction is well under way on the new Choctaw Nation Regional Medical Clinic in Durant.
DURANT – While the Choctaw Nation has more than 40 major construction projects under way across southeast Oklahoma, there may be none more anticipated than the Choctaw Nation Regional Medical Clinic coming to Durant.
According to Senior Project Manager Joe Bray, the wait is almost over. Meetings with update reports are ongoing. All signs are pointing to a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting in February 2017.
The clinic is at 1801 Chukka Hina. If that address does not sound familiar, it’s because it is the new Boulevard which will be the main entrance to the clinic and the new tribal headquarters. The location is off of Big Lots Parkway, northwest of the Choctaw Community Center.
The final steel beam was set into place earlier this spring in a Topping Out Ceremony. Since then, the construction management firm Robins and Morton and its subcontractors have completed the erection of the steel frame, installation of the roof structure, and more to where the outside of the clinic is almost complete.
The Choctaw Nation Durant Regional Medical Clinic is a two-story, 143,000-square-foot facility on a 20-acre campus development. The complex includes a 17,000-square-foot Health Administration building and 10,000-square-foot Facilities Maintenance building.
One of the distinctive features of the exterior design is the Choctaw Blend brick created exclusively for the clinic by the ACME brick company of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Those driving on Big Lots Parkway can view the Choctaw Blend brick covering the building’s south side. The new multi-hued red brick will be made available from ACME to the public for purchase once the clinic opens.
Bray noted that there had been an emphasis placed on Choctaw art and painting, which will be displayed prominently throughout the clinic.
Construction has begun, he said on a 12-foot-tall sculpture of a Choctaw elder, his daughter, and two grandchildren playing with hoops with Choctaw symbols on them. The piece will stand at the entry to the clinic.
Also at the entrance, along with the north wall, a commissioned art glass piece will be displayed depicting the history of the Choctaw Health system.
When visitors enter the main lobby from the east side of the building, they will encounter a grand staircase opposite the elevators, bordered on one side by a wall of glass to the ceiling. Among views from the setting will be that of the new Choctaw Nation Headquarters going up next door.
A unique feature of the glass wall that follows the grand staircase from the lobby to the second floor is newly developed Sage Glass. Requiring a joint effort by both the glass installers and electricians to be set into place, the unique glass panels have electronic sensors that will tint based on the amount of sunlight coming in from the outside.
Interior work is well under way with the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC units near completion with a geothermal heating-and-cooling system. Offices and patient rooms have already taken definite shape on both floors. Used on walls throughout the building are fire-rated materials. Finished in December is the flooring.
In keeping with the Choctaw Nation’s efforts in environmental and energy conservation, the facility will have certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (L.E.E.D) building. The designation is a nationally accepted organization for design, operation, and construction of high-performance “green” buildings.
While the bricks-and-mortar put the building in a class of its own, services and staffing also bring a new level of patient care. Teresa Jackson, Senior Executive Officer for Choctaw Nation Tribal Services, said, “Among clinic functions will be primary care, encompassing pediatrics, geriatrics, podiatry, WIC and other specialty care. Patients will be served with dental, audiology, eye, lab and radiology services, and even behavioral health. Employee health also will be on site. We will be able to take care of outpatient surgery. Surgery scheduling will begin in April 2017.”
Equipment in the new clinic includes a state-of-the-art MRI machine, allowing patients to have tests performed locally, rather than driving to Talihina or farther outside the Tribal Health System.
The neighboring Health Administration, located at 1803 Chukka Hina, will provide additional medical offices.
Jackson said, “That building will have Choctaw Nation Health Services Administration, WIC, Patient Relations, Public Health Nursing, and Healthy Aging, as well as education and meeting rooms.”