Health Department’s Skiatook location now offering all services

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A district spokesman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health on March 24 confirmed the Skiatook location of the Osage County Health Department has begun offering the full range of services available at the primary office in Pawhuska.

”Same as if you would walk into Pawhuska,” district information officer Scott Haywood said. The number of days per week that the two offices are open is different — three days in Skiatook and five in Pawhuska, but the services are the same.

The Skiatook office, at 210 Bulldog Drive, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Services include immunizations, WIC, COVID-19 testing, family planning and more.

Haywood said the Skiatook office probably would have reached this point earlier, but the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic took precedence.

Staffing for the Skiatook office has now reached the level necessary to offer a full range of services, he said.

”It’s huge that we are able to expand the services in Osage County down to Skiatook,” Haywood said. The state Health Department is currently ramping down from its COVID-19 response, Haywood said, confirming that health officials hope resistance to the illness among Oklahomans is well-developed enough to prevent further large-scale outbreaks. Nonetheless, supplies of protective equipment and COVID-19 rapid tests remain available if the need for them arises, Haywood said.

”We’re ready to rock and roll on it,” he said.

The development of a fully functional Skiatook office of the Osage County Health Department is an objective that was articulated during the tenure of former district health administrator Larry Bergner. When the state Health Department dismissed Bergner in the summer of 2019, his replacement told Osage County commissioners that efforts to staff and operate an office in Skiatook would continue.

While Pawhuska is the county seat and the location of the Osage County Health Department’s primary office, Skiatook — which sits on the Osage/Tulsa county line — has more than twice the population and is a roughly 40-mile drive along two-lane state highways from Pawhuska. Residents of Skiatook and other communities in southern Osage County have long complained about a lack of service from county offices and a lack of consultation with them by county elected officials.

Osage County, unlike most Oklahoma counties, collects sales tax to help pay for Health Department services. The county charges a quarter-penny on the dollar in support of the Health Department, and county commissioners have been sensitive about what they consider the reluctance of state health officials to adequately consult with them about how the sales tax revenues are spent.