The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) awarded Cherokee Indian Hospital’s CEO Casey Cooper with the Area/Regional Impact Award at the 28th Annual Consumer Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. Cooper was acknowledged for affecting local Tribal change, change in local, area and regional health care and his impact on health care in administration, health care services, public awareness and advocacy.
The theme for the 28th Annual Consumer Conference was Health, Hope, and Heroes: Using the Foundations of Tribal Values and Knowledge to Advance Native Health. Each year NIHB recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to promoting the health needs of American Indian and Alaska Native people.
- contributions in the field of health care services, health education, preventive health, health administration, public awareness, or health care advocacy.
- contributions that have helped to improve health care benefits for American Indians and Alaska Natives at the community, area/regional, or national level.
- Demonstrate commitment to enhancing and promoting health education and/or improving the health and well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Cooper, an EBCI tribal member, received a BSN from Gardner-Webb University, a MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He has been involved in American Indian health care for 17 years and has served the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation (EBCN) and its community since graduating from nursing school in 1993. He served as a Primary Care Nurse, Community Health Nurse, Nurse Educator and Nursing Manager.
As the Health Director of the EBCN from 1999 to 2004, he helped shape public health policy with a focus on chronic disease prevention and lead a community wide initiative to assume the management responsibilities of the CIH from the Indian Health Services through an Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Agreement.
In 2004, Cooper became the Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Indian Hospital (CIH) making significant changes and impacting community relationships as well as regional relationships.
Removing assumed barriers and obstacles, Cooper set out to involve Cherokee Indian Hospital in all regional hospital matters. He encouraged staff to reach out to local, area and regional hospitals, to build relationships, strengthen ties and learn from those around us. This was a paradigm shift for a staff that depended on IHS for leadership and initiatives.
Ties were strengthened with state, federal and local agencies while maintaining IHS and USET relationships. He moved Cherokee Indian Hospital off an island and onto the mainland of healthcare in Western North Carolina. He established a mentorship relationship with another CEO in the area and visited regional hospitals to glean information and strengthen ties. He is a current member of the Western North Carolina Health Network, the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Health Committee, and current member and former Chairman of the Board of Directors for Smoky Mountain Mental Health. He serves on the Medical Care Advisory Committee,
Foundation for Nursing Excellence, Board of Visitors at UNC Chapel Hill, and the Mountain Area Health Education Center.
Under Cooper’s leadership, the Cherokee Indian Hospital has received national awards and distinction, including the 2008 Davies Award for Excellence in Public Health, national recognition in the Improving Patient Care initiative, being named as one of four programs in the IHS as a model for success by the White House Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs, and becoming the first hospital in the IHS to successfully attest for Medicare and Medicaid Meaningful Use Incentive and received the first Meaningful Use Payment in the IHS. Clinical improvements include improvements in screening rates for domestic violence from 1% to 85%, tobacco screenings from 43% to 87%, and alcohol use screenings from 4% to 85%. Breast cancer screenings are up from 39% to 63%, and Colorectal cancer screening has increased from 20% to 51%.
– Cherokee Indian Hospital