Jacob Factor/Journalism Intern
Medical Marijuana distribution could jeopardize federal tort status
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Following the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council Health, Education and Welfare Committee’s legislation consideration July 9, MCN Department of Health Secretary Shawn Terry updated the committee on the state of MCNDH.
Terry said the Eufaula Indian Health Center in Eufaula has finished construction and is now being furnished with equipment, fixtures and other furniture.
He said the clinic should open around Aug. 1., but an official opening date has not been set. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place July 27 at 10 a.m.
The MCN Community Hospital in Okemah has been fully operational for about a month and, according to the MCNDH report, has not experienced any major issues. There are a few unnamed ‘minor adjustments’ mention in the report.
The report states MCNDH expects all corrections will be implemented by late August.
Terry said MCNDH is working with Tribal Construction and Engineers to replace parking lot surfaces at the MCN Medical Center in Okmulgee. According to the report, construction of this as well as a new ambulance entrance will begin in the coming months. There are also plans to replace the roof over the surgical area of the Medical center.
MCNDH is working with architects to expand the Long Term Acute Care Hospital, which is part of the MCN Physical Rehabilitation Center. LTACH currently has a four-patient capacity, according to their website. The expansion will raise that number to 12 patients, Terry said.
Terry addressed the June 26 passing of State Question 788, which legalized the distribution and usage of medical marijuana in the State of Oklahoma.
He said MCNDH received an email from Indian Health Services regarding the issue. The email, Terry said, states since the distribution and usage of medical marijuana is still illegal according to federal law, and since MCNDH receives ‘45 percent of federal funding from IHS,’ tribal physicians, “would be jeopardizing our federal tort status” if they prescribed, diagnosed or distributed medical marijuana.
Approximately 25 employees of MCNDH were trained in worldwide national standards. The training promotes ‘customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making and relationship management,’ the report states.