TAHLEQUAH, OK – The Cherokee Nation has begun construction on its six-story $400 million hospital that will replace the nearly 40-year-old aging W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, OK. Cherokee Nation leaders gathered for an official groundbreaking to celebrate the replacement W.W. Hastings Hospital that will span 400,000 sq. ft. and include 127 beds, helipad on the roof and allow expanded services for Cherokee and Native citizens.
“To start building the walls that will bear our future citizens, save countless Cherokee lives and heal and comfort our sick in their most critical time of need is a defining moment in the Cherokee Nation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We can look at how far our tribe and our sovereignty has come – from Indian Health Service operating a small rock building at NSU to a more institutionalized facility built in the mid 1980’s to the Cherokee people taking ownership of its hospital needs a decade later and now building our own sky-high hospital to care for each other at the hands of more Cherokee doctors and nurses shows that, in this brick-and-mortar, we prioritize the health needs of our people.”
The new hospital will have a connecting bridge to the existing Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center on the tribe’s medical campus off Ross Avenue in Tahlequah so Cherokee citizens and staff can easily move through. The newly rebuilt Hastings will include an ER, surgery, ICU, imaging, pharmacy and lab, neo-natal ICU, hospice, dietary and acute care, among other services.
The current W.W. Hastings Hospital was built in the mid-1980’s, with approximately 180,00 sq. ft., with 56 beds and was initially designed to serve about 60,000 patient visits per year. In the past year, W.W. Hastings served 60,000 patients alone in the emergency room and urgent care. The hospital labor and delivery had nearly 900 births, 4,000 surgeries and nearly 100,000 patient visits.
“This new hospital will offer access to more services, more beds, better testing, more space and shorter wait times for our citizens,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “It is a real blessing to be able to invest these critical dollars to improve our healthcare system by growing it to meet the needs of our citizens. These investments will also positively benefit our tribe by creating new healthcare jobs, as well as construction jobs and other opportunities that benefit Cherokee families and communities.”
In December 2021, Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner signed legislation investing $440 million into healthcare capital improvement projects. Aside from the new $400 million replacement Hastings Hospital, the investment also includes a $35 million replacement clinic in Salina and $5 million toward Northeastern State University College of Optometry.
“The Cherokee Nation is blessed to be in a position to build what’s needed for our people and have the right leadership in place to make it happen and dedicated staff to serve citizens in this facility,” said Council of the Cherokee Nation Speaker Mike Shambaugh. “I’m proud of this administration and Council working with our healthcare team to make this day a reality.”
The current W.W. Hastings Hospital employs more than 500 healthcare staff.