Osage Nation Responds to Omicron Surge with Testing and Safety Measures

Covid Testing

Admin and Nursing Staff Test 405 Osage Nation Employees to Identify Positives, Stop Spread

OSAGE RESERVATION, OKLA. (January 11, 2022) - On Monday, January 10 and Tuesday, January 11, 2022, administration and healthcare workers at the Wahzhazhe Health Center (WZZHC) tested 405 Osage Nation Employees, identifying 57 positive cases in an effort to stop the spread throughout the Osage Nation workforce and communities. While the country is collectively experiencing shortages in staffing, Covid-19 testing supply and vaccines amid the COVID-19 Omicron variant surge, the WZZHC administration and nursing staff continue to work to keep the community safe. Dr. Amanda Bighorse, the Chief Medical Officer of Osage Nation Health Services, applauds their ongoing efforts. 

“None of this would be possible without the incredible care and commitment by our healthcare team,” said Dr. Bighorse. “Testing that many people in two days is not an easy task, yet they continue to show up and push through. I deeply admire, respect and appreciate each and every one of our team members. It is an honor to work alongside them.” 

During Osage Nation employee testing, the WZZHC closed to in-person office visits, however, normal office hours resume Wednesday, January 12, 2022. The WZZHC continues to have testing supplies and will fill every slot available within the Center’s testing capacity. Per the Center for Disease Control (CDC) updated guidelines, all individuals who are positive for COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. 

Osage Nation Human Resources updated their COVID-19 leave policy to reflect the CDC guidelines, as well as accommodate childcare and school closures.

“We must continue to provide vital tribal services and programs to Osage constituents while taking care of our workforce,” said Osage Nation Director of Operations Casey Johnson. “Testing plays a critical role in that effort and we are grateful to Dr. Bighorse and her team for going above and beyond, yet again, to help stop the spread.” 

In response to the COVID-19 surge, Osage Nation is implementing various closures and shifts as safety measures. At this time, this includes: 

  • Osage Nation Welcome Center is closing public access until further notice. Staff is still on-site and able to connect via phone, email and fax. There is a secured drop box located at the north entrance for any applications or Tax Commission needs. 
  • In order to protect our elders, Elder Nutrition/Title IV is closing dining room access, but still providing meals through drive-through and homebound delivery, effective immediately.  
  • Osage Nation Language classes are canceled at this time. Please utilize various language tools available at osageculture.com to continue at-home learning. 

Program/service modifications and closure updates will be posted on osagenation-nsn.gov and Osage Nation social media platforms. The Osage Nation employee mask mandate remains in place and individuals are encouraged to get vaccinated and boosted. Individuals with questions related to COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccine, the COVID-19 booster, or scheduling a test, can call the WZZHC Covid-19 Hotline at (918) 287.0028. WZZHC is located at 715 Grandview Ave. in Pawhuska, Okla.