HLC Newsletter

Choctaw Nation Receives National Healthcare Award from Health Industry Leaders

Healthcare Leadership Council Honors HEROES Project with the Redefining American Healthcare Award

CALERA, OK – The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) honored the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s Health Education in Rural Oklahoma for Employment Success (HEROES) Project with its Redefining American Healthcare Award at a ceremony on Friday, February 16th.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is a grantee of the Department of Education’s Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP), and the HEROES Project goal is to increase the number of students in the STEM field, particularly in the healthcare pipeline. This project has been successful in increasing the awareness in secondary students of careers in healthcare, while actively working to enroll post-secondary students into healthcare training programs for employment. HEROES provides direct aid to students through financial support, academic support, and employment assistance. The program was fittingly presented with the award during Career and Technical Education Month.

“The HEROES project is a great example of the Choctaw Nation’s commitment to increasing the number of STEM students in the healthcare field,” said Choctaw Chief Gary Batton. “The program promotes our best and brightest to help bring new innovations to the healthcare industry. We are humbled by this award and look forward to continuing success from the HEROES project.”

“At the Department of Education, we recognize that the Choctaw Nation believes strongly in education as an integral part of a secure financial future,” said Luke Rhine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education in a video recording for the event. “Careers in the health care field are some of the most in need in your community and beyond. Throughout this critical work, the Choctaw Nation is increasing educational attainment, which will support long-term employment and greater incomes to better the lives of Choctaw members.”

“Southeastern Oklahoma’s healthcare workforce challenges reflect similar challenges experienced nationwide. The HEROES approach showcases a strategic investment in a long-term solution. This public-private partnership is driving more tribal members toward successful careers in healthcare, while ensuring patients in this community will be served by culturally competent care for generations to come,” said Healthcare Leadership Council regional director, Kiley Raper. “Because it is in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, the lessons learned can be shared for the benefit of communities across America.”

Senator James Lankford congratulated the recipients in recorded remarks, stating, “Through the HEROES program, [the Choctaw Nation] is able to address the need for culturally competent care for rural communities. The healthcare system in Oklahoma is better because of your commitment to providing support, funding, education, and career opportunities to tribal members. The opportunities that you’ve made available to the members of the Choctaw nation, like certification courses, mentorship, and partnerships with regional institutions are all incredibly valuable.”

“Choctaw Nation thinks generationally,” Senator Markwayne Mullin said in a statement recorded prior to the event. “We have a healthcare crisis in Indian Nation, in Oklahoma and beyond. The HEROES Program is doing something about it and it’s successful. People are noticing.”

The Healthcare Leadership Council created the Redefining American Healthcare Award to recognize best practices and programs in communities and organizations across the nation that optimize care for vulnerable patients. Award recipients are organizations developing and activating cost-effective, measurable community programs promoting a patient-centered approach to care that considers outside social factors to achieve the best outcomes.


For Immediate Release: February 21, 2024
Contact: Kelly Fernandez, (202) 449-3452, kfernandez@hlc.org