The Story of the Cherokee Indian Hospital.

Just before the turn of the 19th century, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) welcomed their first physician to the Qualla Boundary. Dr. Hartman “Doc” Oberlander arrived on September 1, 1894—a former baseball pitcher turned MD—becoming the first official Eastern Cherokee School and Agency physician. His services, unfortunately, were limited to just the school’s students.

Hope Takes Flight with Lula Owl Gloyne.

In the 1920s, a new school and new employee housing were both constructed around what would eventually be called “Agency Circle”—today’s home to the Cherokee Phoenix Theatre. Lula Leta Owl (later Lula Owl Gloyne) worked in a small clinic in the basement of the Agency’s administration building. She would go on to become the first registered nurse of the EBCI and later distinguish herself as a Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Tribe.

As the years passed, a small, two-story infirmary for the Cherokee Boarding School was built with the intent to care for boarding school students, and soon the school physician began providing the community with maternity and tuberculosis care. As the physician began to see new patients, the infirmary moved once again, where it served, at long last, as a “hospital”—though one that needed to be much larger and offer more services to truly help Cherokee.

Cherokee Delegation Rallies Support in DC.

In the early 1930s, Lula Owl Gloyne traveled with Tribal officials to Washington, DC to testify in front of Congress—to address the need for a fully functioning hospital on the Qualla Boundary. After pleading their case, the Cherokee delegation emerged victorious, with Congress agreeing to provide funding to build the Cherokee Indian Hospital. Official construction began in 1936.

In 1973, a new outpatient clinic area was added, located where the UNITY building now resides in Cherokee. And in 1985, the hospital moved and began to ably serve the Eastern Band. Triumphantly in October 2015, the Tribe received a new 83 million-dollar healthcare facility that enrolled members proudly use today—a state-of-the-art facility providing the highest standards of healthcare, in a unique, Cherokee-infused environment meant to nurture and heal.

Since the new CIHA healthcare facility’s opening, we have added Kanvwotiyi – Residential Treatment Center, and a Women’s & Men’s Residential Support Home. We recently broke ground for a new clinic in Cherokee County and a new state-of-the-art long-term care facility that will replace our current skilled nursing facility, Tsali Care.

In July 2018, Tribal leadership approved funding for a new psych/detox inpatient unit to build upon the old hospital structure to the next CIHA campus. Demolition began in February 2019, and the Crisis Stabilization, now called the Analenisgi Inpatient Unit, opened in 2021.

To take a virtual tour of the Analenisgi Inpatient Unit, click here.

We are so excited about the expansion of care that the CIHA has been able to provide tribal members through the support of tribal leadership. We hope to continue the legacy of quality care that Beloved Woman Lula Owl Gloyne started.

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