“We want patients to be able to get in and to get care quickly.” –MCN Secretary of Health Shawn Terry
Jessica McBride/Managing Editor
MCNDH launches campaign to get citizens insured
OKEMAH, Okla. — When the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Community Hospital opens near the end of 2017, patients can enjoy a medical environment decorated with soothing earth tones and accented in bright blues and greens.
“There’s a little psychology in choosing the color schemes and everything because you want to have a calming effect. It makes the patients less anxious and gives you a better reading on blood pressures and things like that,” MCN Principal Chief James Floyd said.
An open space surrounded with floor to ceiling glass utilizes terrazzo flooring detailed with MCN clan names in both English and Mvskoke.
An official opening day for the facility has not been announced.
The emergency portion’s five fast track rooms are fitted with modern technology, such as glass panels that turn opaque with the flip of a switch.
The goal of the fast track rooms is to treat emergency room patients quickly, and choose either to admit them or get them the care they need in order to return home.
“About 80 percent of people that come through the emergency room isn’t a true emergency… you don’t control people, I mean people get sick after five and they get sick on the weekends,” MCN Secretary of Health Shawn Terry said.
He said many times patients go to the emergency room because urgent care centers and clinics are closed after 5 p.m. and on weekends.
Terry said the MCN Department of Health is looking at launching a pilot project of opening MCN clinics on Saturdays as urgent care centers to provide better access to health care for citizens.
He did not have a timeline for when this project would be announced.
An isolation room is available at MCNCH to treat patients that could be extremely contagious. This room contains negative pressure to ensure that contaminants or illnesses do not spread.
A decontamination room has a door to the outside near the emergency room entrance so that patients do not need to enter the facility itself.
The helipad will be used to transport to and from MCNCH. Care flights will go to Oklahoma City, Tulsa and McAlester depending on what services the patient needs.
MCNCH also has bariatric facilities for patients.
The facility is licensed for 25 inpatient beds and 13 rooms.
Headboards in the patient rooms conceal wires, cords and pipes for a clean view. The façade comes off for maintenance.
Safety features incorporated into the entire facility are the smooth transition between floor types and rooms, which prevents a lip that patients can trip over, as well as sliding doors.
“You would shocked at how much time we spend monitoring and managing falls and the risk of falls in a hospital,” Terry said.
The clinic portion has 32 exams rooms and four procedure rooms.
Terry said MCNDH is moving to a team care model that combines physicians, pharmacists, dieticians and other medical staff to collaborate on one patient’s needs.
“… So that way, that event of care is not just you and the doctor, it’s you and your whole team that’s thinking about everything that has to go on,” he said.
A separate building will offer wellness services from physical therapy, orientations and wellness classes, and includes a demonstration kitchen.
The nurse call system is hooked up to 50 phones that will be carried by medical staff. The system also includes tracking so that supervisors know the amount of time it takes for staff to respond to a patient call, and GPS technology to know which staff member is closest to the patient.
Because the facility is new construction, plans were made for a large information technology room that maintains a cool temperature and organizes technology wiring instead of storing crumpled computer and telephone cords in a small closet.
Floyd said MCNCH’s data capacity is one gigabyte, and utilizes wiring about the diameter of a wooden toothpick.
He said health facilities in Okmulgee have recently upgraded from an estimated 520 megabytes to one gigabyte, decreased the number of servers used and lowered the overall costs.
Terry compared the old system to downloading a movie on a smartphone and receiving a message that your memory is full.
“…Every person that we do an X-ray with, every X-ray is a movie that we’re downloading into the system. It’s that large of a file and sometimes we’re transmitting that file to a radiologist in Tulsa to read,” he said.
Terry said the network used to get clogged by constantly sending large images within and outside of facilities.
“We’re down to almost no down time because of the network,” he said.
This increases efficiency for both medical staff and patients.
Floyd said the new network allows patients to receive their prescriptions the same day.
Terry said the phone system allows an incoming phone call to be transferred to an open line automatically so that calls are answered immediately, instead of callers hearing a busy signal.
There are around 300 geothermal wells an estimated 300 feet deep into the ground that utilize ground energy to heat and cool water to heat and cool the entire facility. The geothermal unit is energy efficient and considered green energy.
Together We Can Do More campaign
One of Terry’s other focuses is improving access to health care for citizens.
“We want patients to be able to get in and to get care quickly,” he said.
Terry elaborated that updates to the phone system, hiring qualified physicians and incorporating new ideas like expanding clinic hours would be reviewed and possibly implemented within the next year.
He said they are also promoting citizen engagement.
“We’ve really been out in the communities promoting our Together We Can Do More campaign, and this is not just about our operation, this is about everybody in the Muscogee Nation being involved to make their health system better,” Terry said.
The campaign aims to enroll citizens in Medicare, Medicaid or an insurance plan.
“The reality is, is that Indian health is not an entitlement program in the federal budget like the VA (Veterans Affairs) or Medicare. It’s discretionary spending,” Terry said.
He said Indian Health Service funding could be affected if the federal government decides to cut discretionary spending.
“By federal law, we are required to bill Medicare and Medicaid and private insurance to supplement our budget… it’s imperative that we do better because I don’t see the government ever doing more to try to build our health care,” Terry said. “It’s going to take the tribe to solve its own problems and that’s how we’re going to do it.”
Terry estimated that potentially hundreds of individuals will need to be hired on to fully staff MCNCH and the new clinic being constructed in Eufaula.
“We probably won’t grow as fast here (MCNCH),” he said. “It’ll be kind of a staging process as we grow into the building, but just the size of the campus is going to require a lot of extra housekeepers and caretakers.”
On Sept. 30, 2016, MCNDH announced a departmental realignment that affected approximately 178 health care positions. MCN laid off 123 employees, and 55 employees were moved to other positions within the Nation.
Floyd said a number of the individuals affected by the layoffs have been rehired.
“Some of the people that we kept left, so we’ve used some of those people to come back,” he said.
Floyd did not have an exact number of people who had been rehired.
During the April MCN National Council session, Council passed legislation amending the Nation’s loan agreement for the Okemah Hospital Project. The legislation extends the $86 million loan to finance MCNCH and Eufaula Clinic construction to Dec. 31.
Floyd said this was done at no cost to the Nation.
“So there’s no fees, no additional money that we had to loan. We’re under budget. But the time of the loan would’ve ended June 30 and so the bank allowed us to do a six-month, no cost extension…” he said.
Floyd said changes were made to the initial construction plans to make the facility more cost-efficient and cut construction costs.
He said the primary contractor was changed to Manhattan Construction for their experience and ability to manage multiple sub-contractors.
Terry said the financial deficit situation announced last spring has improved.
“We’ve had a great year of stabilizing our finances. We’ve really focused a lot on facility improvement this year,” he said.
Terry said the 70,000 square foot facility being constructed in Eufaula is about 18 months out from being operational.
Floyd said MCNCH construction is on schedule.
He said with the technological advances MCNDH has achieved, patients should already see a difference in their health care.