— Tribal leaders plan to build a bigger hospital with more services to replace the 28-bed Cherokee (N.C.) Indian Hospital on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in western North Carolina. Space at Cherokee’s one-story facility is limited, said Jody Bradley, the hospital’s public relations officer. “It is very tight quarters right now,” she said. “We want people to stay here for services instead of going outside the reservation, but we have to make sure they have a place to come back to.” Hospital officials have chosen a mountaintop location for the three-story, 141,000-square-foot facility and are in the process of evaluating which additional services they will provide there. Cherokee Indian Hospital functions as a one-stop health facility for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a 14,000-member tribe. The hospital’s current offerings include dental services, chronic disease management and inpatient care. As part of the expansion, officials are planning to revamp the hospital’s eye clinic and build a larger pharmacy. They are also contemplating adding new services, such as gastroenterology, Bradley said. “Right now we’re studying each service to see if it is more efficient to add it in-house or keep sending patients out for it,” she said. The $50 million project is still in the early phases and the new hospital won’t be open for patients for at least another three to five years. Bed counts may increase slightly, Bradley said, but the most significant changes will affect the hospital’s outpatient offerings and administrative facilities. Much of the funding for the new hospital will come from revenue derived from the tribe’s casino. In 2002, the tribe assumed ownership of the hospital from the U.S. Indian Health Service.
Tribal leaders plan a larger replacement for Cherokee (N.C.) Indian Hospital.