TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – Cherokee Nation has received two national Indian Health Service awards for efforts made during the pandemic.
The Cherokee Nation received the Pandemic Heroism Award and the Director’s Customer Service Award for the tribes efforts through the Pandemic Vaccine Task Force.
“Cherokee families have seen and felt the positive impact that our health system and our public health team have made on our communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Our Health Services and Public Health teams have put the lives of the Cherokee people first. They have served not only our own families, but our neighbors and friends across the reservation and in communities at large. Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I are extremely proud of each of them and thankful to their teams for their tireless commitment to the health and safety of Cherokees. Their expertise during the pandemic saved countless lives and helped us to lessen the negative impacts of the virus on our most vulnerable populations, which in turn helped to protect our precious Cherokee language and culture.”
According to the Cherokee Nation, the Pandemic Heroism Award displays exceptional and dedicated work as well as selfless responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The award for the COVID-19 Task Force acknowledges service that encourages the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) mission and vision through work focused on the aims and goals in the IHS COVID Action Plan.
“In early March of 2020, we convened an interdisciplinary COVID-19 Task Force and used a team approach to plan response efforts. We identified and removed barriers to services for both patients and employees and all of our decisions made were weighed with the current infectious disease evidence and epidemiological trends for our area at the time. We took a strategic and measured approach to decrease in-person patient encounters, increase telehealth options, and increase in-service lines offered,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones.
The Cherokee Nation says the Director’s Customer Service Award acknowledges the innovation and excellent performance of the Pandemic Vaccine Task Force that produced quality service to customers, stakeholders, and partners of the IHS.
“I cannot express enough how much our teams demonstrated the spirit of gadugi within the health system to serve our communities and those at large. Our team approach made us more aware of the various roles within our organization and what we can accomplish together,” Jones said. “It has been humbling to see everyone take on new and unfamiliar roles to deliver exceptional care to our patients and we attribute our success to our staff’s dedication to serving each other and our people.”