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Cherokee Nation celebrates $2 million investment into new mobile MRI unit

The Cherokee Nation is celebrating after investing $2 million into a new mobile MRI unit for the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.

The $2 million investment is part of an overall investment in diagnostic imaging totaling more than $6 million across the tribe’s health services system.

Before the mobile MRI unit, patients at Hastings were forced to receive MRI services off-site.

“Having the unit on-site at the hospital eliminates the need for Hastings EMS to transport patients to other sites for MRI studies. This will allow increased access for other patient transfers, thus increasing patient care and satisfaction," Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the new unit represents the next generation of clinical care.

“I’m extremely proud of our efforts to ensure the story of the Cherokee people continues by improving the health and quality of life for our citizens. Our record investment in our best-in-Indian-Country health care system is positively changing the lives of Cherokee families for generations to come," Hoskin said.

According to the Nation, the new MRI system is quieter, faster, and more comfortable for patients compared to traditional MRI technologies often used in on-site health facilities.

The mobile MRI unit is expected to enhance other health services offered by the Cherokee Nation, including Acute Stroke Ready Certification and stroke care provided through a partnership with the Regional Brain Institute.

“This unit will allow for better practices that help meet the requirements of our Acute Stroke Ready Certification and allow us to proceed with additional stroke center certifications, making us the only hospital in the region with a nationally certified stroke program,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Medical Director Dr. Roger Montgomery. “Having an MRI on-site also allows faster follow-up exams for the patients being cared for by our team of specialists from RBI.”

The new investments to the Nation's health services came after a proposal from Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner back in 2021 to invest $400 million to reconstruct a new hospital in Tahlequah that would replace the nearly 40-year-old W.W. Hastings Hospital.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.