Expanded Health Center Honors Cherokee Nation's History and Heals the Community

As the largest tribally-owned health care system in the United States, Cherokee Nation Health System holds true to its history and heritage dating back to the time following World War II when Cherokees fought in both the Union and Confederate armies. The time period following the war (1861-1880) became known as the “fighting and healing” era when the Cherokee Nation served its community and helped the country move forward after turmoil.

In an effort to provide the Vinita community with a comprehensive medical center, Cherokee Nation Health System made plans to expand the 4,000 square-foot Vinita Health Center into a 92,000 square-foot building, making it 23 times larger than the original, and the second largest center in the health system. The new center was built and equipped for primary care, as it includes a full pharmacy, lab, radiology center and dental operatories, as well as for optometry, behavioral health and physical therapy services. The center will continue to honor the time of fighting and healing in addition to providing excellent medical care to the surrounding population, as the name Vinita translates to “where they get well.”

Childers Architect firm was hired to design and construct the expanded center. With the overall inspiration taken from the community’s past, historic materials like wood and stone were used as the primary construction materials. To help increase the durability and expand the lifespan of the center, a metal roof was installed on the structure. Furthermore, the use of a metal roof was selected to match surrounding community buildings, as standing seam roofs are commonly used on many other Cherokee Nation buildings.

Petersen Aluminum Company provided the standing seam roof, which required 43,500 square feet of Snap Clad panels that were finished in Valspar Fluropon® coating in Cool Color Granite. Most Cherokee Nation buildings feature a dark green coating for the metal roofing panels, but this lighter shade was chosen to help the center achieve LEED Silver Certification. Other materials and features, such as using locally-sourced products, natural and energy-efficient lighting, low-flow water fixtures and drought-tolerant landscaping, were implemented to also contribute to the anticipated certification.

Valspar’s Fluropon 70 percent PVDF architectural coating is renowned for its high-performing qualities, including superior resistance to ultraviolet rays and exceptional dirt and stain resistance. Recognized for its durability, the Fluropon coating reflects the vision of strength and unity of the Cherokee Nation, and the cool granite color provides an earthy aesthetic.

The Vinita Health Center is decorated with original Cherokee art and lithographs depicting events during World War II and how the families of the Cherokee Nation were affected. The expanded Vinita Health Center officially opened its doors in 2012 and provided 125 new jobs to the community, with 90 percent of those filled by people belonging to the Cherokee Nation. The center truly embodies the Cherokee Nation, as it is influenced by the community, run by the community and serves the community.

Vinita Health Center, Cherokee Nation Health System; Vinita, OK; http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Health/HealthCentersHospitals.aspx/