Osage Nation plans mass vaccination event

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Osage Nation Health Services announced several COVID-19 vaccination distribution events for this week, including a major event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 27, at the Osage Casino Hotel Event Center in Tulsa for persons 18 and older. That mass vaccination event is intended as an outreach to both the Native and non-native populations.

The Osage Nation said in an online post the evening of March 17 that it had administered 3,661 doses of COVID-19 vaccine between Dec. 16 and March 17.

The Osage Nation has increasingly reached out beyond its own population to offer COVID-19 prevention services to members of other Native groups, and to the non-native population. It has done so at a time when high quality health care is increasingly a key concern for its leadership.

In his March 11 State of the Nation address, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear called for discussion regarding what he referred to as a “new Osage Nation health care system.” Standing Bear said he had been working with Osage Congresswoman Paula Stabler, with Osage Nation health officials, and with attorneys and architects “to grow our health system into a new facility with new capabilities.”

Stabler filed legislation regarding the creation of a new Osage Nation health care system, to be considered in a tribal congressional session beginning next Monday, March 29.

On a smaller scale, but potentially of considerable effectiveness in delivering health services, Osage Nation Health Services announced last week that it has acquired a new “medical coach”, and the vehicle is going to allow health personnel to get out into communities more.

In yet another measure intended to help promote health and general welfare, the Osage Nation Congress recently approved a $74,000 grant to the city of Pawhuska’s Public Works Authority to help provide water service to nearly 50 customers located generally to the west of the city. The Osage Nation funding is helping Pawhuska to respond to a request for help from a distressed rural water district.

The Osage Nation’s commercial interests also continue to grow, with groundbreaking events anticipated soon for casino hotel facilities in the Pawhuska and Bartlesville areas.