CPN Child Development Center students place second in OU Language Fair
May 11, 2017
Language with Justin: May 2017
May 15, 2017

Opportunities within the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Heath System – Then, Now and Tomorrow

Although, I have had the pleasure of being a family doctor for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation West Clinic since August 14, 2012, it was not my first encounter with the health system. My very first interview was in 2002 with Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services for a position at the tribe’s only clinic facility. At that time I was working out of a rural osteopathic family practice residency in Durant, Oklahoma. The interview went well but I had to decline because, as a single parent with two young children, I needed employment closer to my parents in Yukon. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and 10 years later I was again interviewing with CPNHS for a full-time family physician at the recently constructed west clinic. The clinic hadn’t found a permanent provider and on day one I saw 18 patients. It hasn’t slowed down since. The west clinic now staffs three fulltime family physicians, one pediatrician and one nurse practitioner.

In that time I have had the privilege to gain the role of CPNHS medical director on top of a full-time family practice. Today, CPN Health Services has multiple clinics, physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, optometrists, physical therapists, nurses, technicians and other allied health professionals.

In the more than four years I’ve been here at CPNHS it has been easy to see the growth of the tribe’s health programs. Expansions have been due to the vision of tribal leadership and the need and demand of our community. New services have included optometry, mammography, physical therapy, urgent care and multiple new medical providers. These new providers are the main reason I’m writing to you today. It is also the reason, in my opinion, the future of the CPNHS is very bright.

One of the most rewarding duties as CPNHS medical director is the recruitment of new medical providers. This has been made easy for me thanks to years of groundwork laid by Chairman John Barrett, Vice-Chairman Linda Capps and the CPN Tribal Legislature. Through various CPN tribal undergraduate scholarship programs, a pipeline of bright new doctors and nurses has formed many well-qualified Citizen Potawatomi Nation medical providers.

In the past year, CPNHS has added tribal members, Kassi Roselius, M.D., MPH and Destiny Mitchell, ARNP to our medical staff, and what blessings they have been.

Dr. Roselius is a family physician at the west clinic as well as the CPNHS public health coordinator, a role created specifically for her due to her master’s in public health. She has been a valuable leader to the CPNHS public health department, which has grown since her arrival and will continue to do so.

Destiny Mitchell, APRN is staffing the recently created role of floating provider and she covers the other providers’ practices when they are on vacation or ill. If all providers are present then she goes to an available area to provide overflow coverage. This has given the clinics significant flexibility in provider staffing and reduced the need to cancel or reschedule patients. She is doing a wonderful job. 

CPNHS has another CPN tribal member joining in August 2017, Megan Wilson, M.D., a family physician. She will begin her career at the east clinic. She was also assisted with her undergraduate education by a CPN scholarship. 

Thus far I’ve spoken with or known of three other CPN medical students and two CPN nurse practitioner students graduating in the next three to eight years. I’m confident that multiple others exist that I’m yet to become aware of.

This leads me to the next point, which is to develop a CPNHS database for qualified current or future medical professionals, which is an idea from Chairman Barrett that I fully support. Many of the contacts already made were though word of mouth by patients, family members or the providers calling CPNHS. This is the time to shift it to a more proactive form of CPN tribal medical professional recruitment.

Even if you are retired, practicing elsewhere or have other plans, you would be a valuable addition to the database. The main reason for this, of course, would be to provide more employment opportunities for CPN tribal members, but there are other reasons as well. We would benefit from developing a network of professionals that we could reference, consult and seek peer review. Please email your résumé or CV to cpnhealthdatabase@potawatomi.org or fax it to 405-964-5788, attention Dr. Vascellaro.

I tell CPN leadership routinely that it was a blessing to become an employee for the CPNHS and I have worked hard since day one to reward them for that choice. With confidence, I say to you that the work environment is second to none in providing amazing patient care for all Native Americans, CPN employees and family and CPN member spouses. The clinic facilities are state-of-the-art, support staffing is second to none, and the compensation and benefits are competitive.

The relationships that last are the ones that are beneficial for all involved. The current and future opportunities at this time between CPNHS and CPN tribal medical professionals meet that criterion. I look forward to hearing from you.