Nations Laboratory Services, LLC recently opened a new location in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, under the commercial lease regulations of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. NLS is a moderate to high-complexity laboratory providing clinical and medical testing services for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. NLS will offer services locally with a courier service as well as throughout the state via overnight shipping.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member Steven Weddle, a descendent of the Navarre and Melot families, has owned and operated NLS since April 2018. Weddle worked in the health care industry for more than 20 years, focusing on health care marketing, pharmaceutical sales, ancillary health care services and laboratory services.
“With years of experience providing regional ancillary health care and laboratory services, I recognized that Native Americans were not always provided the most advanced testing available, and the cost of the cutting-edge tests could take a heavy toll on Tribal contract health funds,” Weddle said. “I designed NLS’s reference laboratory business model to bring the advanced testing services closer to Tribal-health focused providers, making the tests more accessible and economical.”
Weddle began the business due to the rising need for accessible health care amongst Native American populations. Tribal health care facilities and clinics, Indian Health Services facilities and clinics, physician clinics, and hospitals that serve a high percentage of Native patients will be the primary focus for these services.
According to a report from the National Congress of American Indians, the spending per patient in 2013 for those receiving care from IHS facilities was $2,849 per person, compared to $7,717 for health care spending nationally. The amount spent per person is lower, despite the fact that Native Americans typically suffer from diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer at rates higher than any other race or ethnicity.
“By providing and improving access to these new services, NLS hopes to increase health care providers’ abilities to rapidly and accurately diagnose diseases, speed recovery and positive patient outcomes, and reduce time off work due to illness,” Weddle added. “We can lower resistance to antibiotics by providing the rapid reporting needed to support appropriate prescribing practices and reduce future health care costs while making a positive impact on the health and wellness of the Native American population.”
Weddle worked with staff at the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation to develop the business plan for NLS. During that process, the CPCDC staff helped Weddle determine realistic goals and expectations for his business. The CPCDC also provided funding for the business.
“We are honored to have a small part in the successful opening of Nations Laboratory Services, LLC,” said Bob Crothers of the CPCDC. “Steve is a great guy with a vision to serve Indian Country, and we are happy to rally behind him and support his dream.”
Established in 2003, the CPCDC provides financial products and counseling services to Citizen Potawatomi Nation members and employees nationwide as well as Native American-owned businesses throughout Oklahoma.
“Nations Laboratory Services is proud to call itself a Native-owned business, focused on bettering the health and wellness of those who need it most,” Weddle added. “NLS is also proud to create jobs and future growth opportunities within the CPN area. We look forward to working with CPCDC on future projects and having a long relationship with our lending partner.”