Putting operating rooms to use will be a focus for MCN DOH
By Angel Ellis/Reporter
OKEMAH, Oklahoma– CEO Health Administrator for Creek Nation Community Hospital in Okemah and Director of Finance for the Creek Nation Okmulgee Community Hospital Phillip Barnoski has returned to the Muscogee (Creek) Nations department of health as of June 10.
He spent some time working outside of the tribe and brings back some valuable experience.
According to Barnoski, he has been able to work for some of the best facilities in the state. Barnoski has served as the Director of Finance at OU Medical System, held several titles at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, has been an Accounting Manager at Tulsa Regional Medical Center and OSU Medical Center as well as Health Systems Administrators for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Division of Health.
He said it was that early experience with MCN Division of Health that had a profound effect on his return. Barnoski is Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee.
“I always knew I wanted to go out and learn all that I could,” Barnoski said. “My goal is to take what I’ve learned and implement that stuff here.”
“I realize looking back when I left…I have always felt that I need to go back and serve my people.”
The primary focus of Barnoski will be growth. He even reiterates that point with his staff.
“It’s imperative of us, that we grow this hospital into what it was meant for,” Barnoski said. “Even meeting with groups of staff, I say that we are here to grow this facility into a place of healing.”
“If the staff doesn’t feel that way, this might not be the place for them.”
Barnoski credits the investment in the new hospital for improving morale. Now he is looking to secure more specialty services.
“We have to let everyone know that we have these facilities that serve both natives and non-natives,” Barnoski said. “Our first push will be to do more surgeries.”
“We now have the capacity in Okemah to do some minor to more major surgeries.”
The goal is to help citizens stay at the tribe’s hospitals. Barnoski said that every referral out of the Nations health system costs the tribe money.
“There was a time when we had all these different specialties services in various facilities,” Barnoski said. “Our people don’t want to have to drive all those long distances.”
He believes local specialists in healthcare is just better patient care.
“I want to bring these various services back into our facilities where our citizens live,” Barnoski said. “People shouldn’t have to travel to the metro areas people don’t want to sit and wait when they are sick; they want to be seen and begin healing.”
Barnoski thinks there are many assets and many improvements made already.
“I think we are getting away from those days of three and four-hour waits,” Barnoski said. “Our fast track and urgent care clinics are very effective.”
Barnoski thinks that keeps money into the ’tribe’s systems, it expands rural wellness across all ethnic origins because it serves everyone, and it keeps folks from flocking to emergency rooms.
“People try not to miss work but don’t want to go into emergency rooms,” Barnoski said. “But our after-hours clinics stay busy, with natives and non-natives alike.”
“I will also be meeting with all the organizations in the communities,” Barnoski said. “The goal is to let people know we are here for everyone.”
Barnoski feels there is plenty of room to expand in the new hospital in Okemah.
“There is still about approximately 45% of the space that we can put to use,” Barnoski said.