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ADA, Okla. (KFOR) – When the pandemic hit, Chickasaw Nation leaders quickly assembled to decide how they could best spend their CARES Act funding to support their community.

They opted to purchase tiny homes for people to quarantine in, virtual mental health resources and even renovating an old Kmart for a variety of coronavirus-related activities, such as testing and vaccinations.

The Chickasaw Nation purchased nine tiny homes, which they refer to as ‘Caring Cottages.’ The units are 399 square feet and come furnished with full amenities, such as cable, wifi and even an emergency phone networked to the Chickasaw Nation.

“We’re thankful to have them to be able to keep our citizens safe and our households safe,” said Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Chris Anoatubby.

The Chickasaw Nation also utilized their CARES Act funding to provide virtual mental health resources to the community, something that has allowed them to maintain their pre-pandemic caseload.

“We’ve provided about 22,000 virtual visits for mental health services since March, or since the beginning of April,” said Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Family Services, Jay Keel. “Without those virtual services, we would have fallen woefully short of that.”

They also used the CARES funding to renovate the old Kmart in Ada, turning it into an Emergency Operation Center.

“It’ll be a warehouse for emergency sorts of supplies… Personal Protective Equipment and other things like cases of water and things like that that are often needed in emergencies,” said Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Health, Dr. Charles Grim. “We purposefully set it up so that we could do mass testings and/or mass vaccination there.”

The Chickasaw Nation also preparing an Additional Site Care Facility on their medical campus.

“We will then be able, if our hospital or other hospitals in the area exceed capacity, we’ll be able to take additional patients in that, and it will hold an additional 48 patients if we have to do that,” said Dr. Grim.

When the Additional Site Care Facility is not in use for providing care to patients it will be used as a simulation training facility for nurses and physicians.

The two facilities have been undergoing construction for around the last seven months. Chickasaw Nation leaders said they plan to open them in about a month.

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