Photo by Deidre K. Elrod/Choctaw Nation
Sculptor Matthew Placzek, left, joins Chief Gary Batton, Choctaw Nation tribal officials, and Choctaw Nation Health Service representatives unveiling the new sculptures at the 20th-anniversary celebration in Talihina.
Choctaw Nation Hospital Celebrates 20 Years
TALIHINA, Okla. – The 20th anniversary of the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center was celebrated with fanfare Friday, July 26 in Talihina.
Chief Gary Batton had been employed in the tribal health care system. He helped with the first ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the facility two decades ago and reminisced about the rain followed by extreme heat at that time.
“We were out here laying sod until three in the morning getting ready for the opening,” Chief Batton said, noting that “This is truly a celebration.” The previous facility was 60 years old when “planning started in 1997 for the $28-million new hospital,” he said.
The Choctaw Nation, Health Care Center, shows the following changes over the past two decades: In its first year, there were 69,756 ambulatory visits, 1,450 hospital admissions, and 274 newborns. In the past year, there have been 191,096 ambulatory visits, 1,224 hospital admissions, and 479 newborns. There also are 121 associates in the Choctaw health care system that have served for 20 years or more.
The half-hour ceremony included colors posted by the Choctaw Nation Color Guard, the Lord’s Prayer signed by Junior Miss Choctaw Nation Kalin Beller and a brief video of health care services.
Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. served as emcee and spoke about how many still refer to it as “the new hospital.”
The Choctaw Nation, Health Care Center, is a state-of-the-art, 152,894 square-foot facility with 44 inpatient beds. All hospital rooms are private. There is a 24/7 Emergency Department. A full range of clinical services is offered: Surgery, Family Practice, Pediatrics, Laboratory, Radiology, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Respiratory Therapy, Audiology, and Dental, as well as a full-service Dietary Department.
Senior Executive Officer of Tribal Services Teresa Jackson was among those conducting tours in the facility on Friday.
Nationally renowned sculptor Matthew Placzek of Omaha, Nebraska was in attendance for the unveiling of his work, which sits at the entry plaza of the hospital.
“It’s a Choctaw family, with the grandmother at the center,” Placzek said of the six life-size bronze figures. The project took almost two years to complete, he said.
The Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with close to 200,000 tribal members and 10,000 employees. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, the historic boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please go to www.choctawnation.com.