By BOB GIBBINS
Tahlequah and Hulbert are two of only nine Oklahoma cities that hold the distinction of being certified healthy communities, Tahlequah City Hospital CEO Brian Woodliff told TCH board members Monday.
Woodliff made the announcement during the board’s monthly meeting. The award is presented to communities that promote wellness, encourage healthy behavior, and establish safe, supportive environments.
The CEO complimented Mayors Jason Nichols and Shirley Teague for their work toward the recognition.
“It shows a commitment and that we’re concerned about population health,” he said.
Carol Choate, a TCH board member and coordinator of the Cherokee County Communities of Excellence Tobacco Control Coalition, lauded Tahlequah city councilors and officials for their progressive approach in these areas. She mentioned the tobacco-free and social host ordinances and the all-night Tahlequah senior class party, which keeps new graduates off the roads on graduation night.
Choate also said Tahlequah BEST – Bringing Everyone's Strengths Together – has played a role in Tahlequah's earning the distinction.
“This [certification] will allow us to apply for up to $50,000 in grants that we can use for better walking and hiking trails,” she said. “I also want to thank TCH for being at the table on this. It takes the whole community.”
Woodliff commented on the amnesty program TCH is offering those who owe the facility money. A 35 percent discount is available for accounts through April 15. Woodliff said the hospital hopes some former patients will use tax refunds to pay their hospital bills.
Julie Ward, TCH financial officer, said some people have taken advantage of the amnesty period.
In another matter, Ward said the hospital recorded $925,817 in charitable care between June and November 2012. She said the biggest challenge is getting people to apply.
Donna Dallis, vice president of nursing at TCH, said efforts are continuing to decrease patient falls. She told board members it has been nine months since a fall has occurred in the hospital’s intensive care unit and 31 days since there was a fall in the Solutions unit.
Board Chairman Gary Harrington reminded board members the TCH Hearts of Gold Gala is Feb. 16.Feb. 16.