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News > Press Releases > Press Release

Press Release

Release Date: August 14, 2019

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Health Dr. Charles Grim recognizes Chickasaw Nation citizens and employees at the Area Director’s Indian Health Service Tribal and Urban Awards Ceremony July 18 at Riverwind’s Showcase Theatre.

NORMAN, Okla. – The Indian Health Service (IHS) acknowledged the efforts of Chickasaw Nation citizens and employees for improving the health and well-being of Native American patients and communities Thursday, July 18, at Riverwind’s Showcase Theatre.

Twelve people who are Chickasaw citizens or Chickasaw Nation employees were recognized by their peers and the IHS for years of service, merit and customer service. Each honoree received the Area Director’s IHS Tribal and Urban Award.

Awardees included Loretta Anoatubby, Eric Guyton, Tony Poe, Rhonda Brown, Gail Glase, Lisa Flatt, Lacey Cook, Carol McCarty, Casey Powers, Denise Karr, Casey Brown and Leslie Navarro.

Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Health Dr. Charles Grim served as master of ceremonies.

“This is a day to celebrate our people and their accomplishments,” Dr. Grim said. “Staff members – whether from federal, tribal or urban sites – are individuals, but together they make up an unparalleled rural and urban health care delivery system. These awards serve as a token of appreciation for a job well done.”

Length of service awards

Recipients of 40-year service awards included Rhonda Brown and Gail Glase. Tony Poe received a 35-year award. Loretta Anoatubby and Eric Guyton received 30-year awards. The total years of all 2019 length of service awardees was 1,765.

Rhonda Brown recalled starting her health career in 1988 as a medical technologist in the laboratory at Carl Albert Indian Health Facility in Ada. By then, she had already served 10 years as a Chickasaw Nation employee in the adult education department, working out of the Chickasaw Motor Inn, which was the tribal office headquarters located in Sulphur. After tribal offices were moved to Ada, she joined the information department and was managing editor of the Chickasaw Times. She also served on the advisory council for previous Chickasaw Nation Governor Overton James. She is now laboratory phlebotomy supervisor.

Glase, a veteran of the U.S. Army, recalled entering the health field in 1980. After spending two years in Germany and attending college at Murray State, she embarked on a career with IHS spanning more than 40 years. She started at the Carl Albert Indian Health Facility in 1980 as the hospital’s first secretary.

Peer recognition awards

Lisa Flatt, Lacey Cook, Carol McCarty and Casey Powers received peer recognition awards.

This award is based on peer nomination. Nominees demonstrate contributions above and beyond normal expectations and are team players who excel in the quality of their work and are known for their customer service.

Flatt has worked for the Chickasaw Nation for 12 years as a dental therapist at the Ardmore health clinic. She is a certified community dental health coordinator focused on education and prevention for the Native American community. Her nomination cited Flatt’s passion for dental outreach and efforts to fulfill the mission of the Chickasaw Nation.

Cook, a medical support technician, has worked for the Chickasaw Nation since 2011. Her nomination explained how she provides exceptional customer service to patients and is genuinely concerned about their needs and well-being.

McCarty is a primary care provider at the Chickasaw Nation Purcell Health Clinic, where she has served for more than 11 years. She was recognized for exhibiting devotion and loyalty to patients, helping them achieve their health care goals. She aims to build trust and respect among patients and co-workers.

Powers serves in medical family therapy at the Tishomingo clinic. His nomination explained there are numerous times Powers has worked past his shift or through his lunch to ensure patients’ needs are met. He often takes on extra duties and performs selflessly without complaint.

Merit awards

Denise Karr and Casey Brown received merit awards, signifying their high quality work and outstanding professional achievements.

Karr serves as supervisory accountant of the accounts payable section in the office of financial management at the Oklahoma City area office. Karr is responsible for millions of dollars in payments to contractors, tribes, employees and scholarship programs. She has worked in the IHS for 32 years.

Brown has been employed with the Chickasaw Nation Medisaw/Purchased Referred Care department for two years. He is a registered nurse who plays a significant role as a primary case manager. Team members know him as a kind, friendly and sincere person.

Customer service awards

Leslie Navarro was honored with the area director’s individual excellence in customer service award. This award is among the highest given during the ceremony. Recipients are selected solely by the area director for special efforts beyond regular duty which benefit IHS programs and fulfill its mission.

Navarro serves as the health information management correspondence supervisor at the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health. She has worked for the Chickasaw Nation for more than five years, continually striving to be a strong leader. Her work ethic leads her to ensure patients’ needs are fully met. Maintaining a “can do” attitude and offering exceptional customer service are her priorities.

Special recognition

The final award of the ceremony was the first of its kind and offered to a longtime leader in the Native American health field.

Dr. Grim recognized Rear Adm. Kevin Meeks for leadership, technical excellence and professionalism.

The award was meant to express appreciation for Rear Adm. Meeks’ career. He recently retired after 32 years of service to Native Americans through the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps, which administers IHS.

Rear Adm. Meeks was a critical player in providing quality health care to 2.2 million Native Americans. He also represented tribes in self-governance negotiations, and provided leadership and sage advice in a career of service to countless tribes in several states.

About the ceremony

Pastor Randy Wade, a Chickasaw citizen, offered the invocation for the awards ceremony. The Thunder Bear Drum Group performed multiple times throughout the event. Brent Greenwood, director of fine arts for the Chickasaw Nation, mentors the drum group’s members, which include Ryland Moore, Edward Yellowfish and Miwese Greenwood. Their performance accompanied the Seminole Nation Honor Guard posting colors.

The art of Chickasaw painter Larry Carter was featured on this year’s awards program and during the ceremony. A gallery of his work greeted attendees on arrival and honored recipients took home quality prints of Carter’s work.