ASTHS Press Release: 2020 Year in Review

AST Health System Year in Review 2020

The AST Health System has had quite a memorable and challenging year along with our patients and tribal communities across our state and the nation. In rising to the COVID-19 challenges as it continues to be the pandemic health challenge of our generation, it is important to note the huge milestones and significant accomplishments your health system has achieved this year and to date in servicing both our Tribe and our Patients.

The AST Health Boards have approved and paid accelerated payments on the Joint Venture for the past several years, and this year made their second to the last payment on the JV, which will be paid off 13 years early in a little more than 8 months from now! This will allow capacity for investment in another potential JV at the Shawnee Campus as well as potential expansion needs at Little Axe!

To date, we have grown to service over 22,000 patients within our health system! These patients provide the third party revenue resources that has allowed the expediential growth in our services for our AST Tribal Members and Patients, to include these other benefits (that ARE NOT funded or provided for by the compact funding with I.H.S. and solely funded by Third Party resources):


  • Nearly 100% of contract health services medically necessary are covered for AST Tribal Members – an unprecedented benefit provided by our tribal program above and beyond any other tribes in our area, state, and the nation.

  • ACA Sponsorships for AST Tribal Members that meet criteria in order to provide them the best care and insurance coverage to access referrals and specialty care quickly in their time of need!

  •  Average monthly revenue is around $1.5M per month, even exceeding $2M on one month in 2020 – a string of firsts - never achieved by the AST Health Programs – at any time in the tribe’s health program’s history!

  • After-Hours walk-in acute care clinics with pharmacy access open 7 days a week for convenience and access of our Tribal Members and Patients. This also prevents thousands of dollars for unnecessary ER visits that impact PRC’s budget.

  • Comprehensive Specialty Services not typically found in both variety, robustness, and breadth of services within the Health System! Funding by I.H.S. only provides for basic health and wellness services. The specialty clinic provides incredible access, convenience, and continuity of care never experienced within our tribe (and any other tribes our size), increasing patient satisfaction and care management!

*(Note: It is important to also note that Third Party resources generated by the Health System are required to be reinvested into services by the Health Programs, and cannot be reprogrammed into the general fund or outside of the Health System per Federal Regulations, with very limited and extreme exception).

AST Health employment continues to grow, as well as promotion opportunities for AST Employees of Health. The total number of current AST employees in 2020 exceeds the entire total of ALL health employees employed in 2013 by the health programs!

The Health Programs absorbed the Title 6 Meals Program (that was at risk of closure and continued to negatively impact the General Fund). The Health Programs have now stabilized the Title 6 program that serves our elders, is less of a burden upon the tribe’s budget, and more recently has been provided new equipment and vehicles by the Tribe via grants and CARES Act funding to assure future of services are not a risk! To date, Health and Title 6 employees working together have serviced, prepared, delivered, and provided for in excess >55,000 meals to program recipients in 2020 alone! Title 6 also has immediate access to Health’s board certified Nutritionist.

Record stability in Professional Staff retention with Doctors and other Professional Staff as seen by renewing their commitments with the Health System for another 6, and most instances, 7 years, the longest and most wide-spread stability in medical/dental and other professional staff ever – another historic milestone NEVER experienced or recorded by the tribe’s Health Programs!

Record patient satisfaction rates with our services, consistently scoring between 97-99% on one survey tracker and a 4.7 – 4.9 out of 5 stars on another survey tracker!

In 2020, preparing for our third AAAHC National Re-Accreditation in Patient Safety and Quality as well as meeting National Standards of Healthcare after two “first ever” back-to-back accreditations secured by the Health Programs in 2016 and 2019 another string of first evers!

Unprecedented results! Financial Audits by retained outside National Financial Auditing Firms retained by the Tribe and the Executive Committee for our annual health system financial audits revealed 2020 as another record year-over-year of clean audits by independent auditors filed with both the governmental entities at the Federal and State level, and BancFirst, as a permanent record of fact of our Health System’s Financial Management and stewardship of both compacted, grant, and third party funds!

Continued benefit in 2020 of the renegotiated Tribal AST and I.H.S. Compact, whereby the new compact stabilized the joint venture funding from a limited multi-year commitment to a permanent funding commitment of the Joint Venture of approximately $5M and provided for Home Health Services, which are now an independently certified 5 Star Accountable Care Organization 5 out of 5 quality provider status, one of the few in the state presently! This means insurance providers have to refer patients to our Home Health ahead of other agencies due to their rating, which is an indication of patient safety, quality, and services.

The health system received the American Heart Association (AHA) of Oklahoma Community Leadership Award for supporting the Annual Heart Walk (virtual this year) with the community for 2020 as well as award recognition from the AARP Native American Elder’s Award Program, with three of the health system’s employees being honored with this prestigious award!

Pandemic relief engaged immediately as the health system was amongst the first in the state to submit for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, Provider Relief Funds, and other CARES Act Funding for Testing and PPE for our staff to continue unabated in care and services to the tribe. To date, with the limited exception of the Shawnee Clinic, the health system continues to operate throughout the pandemic 7 days a week for the tribe, even with limited closure in Shawnee due to COVID exposure and patient safety responses!

More grants approved and awarded, with more services, in 2020, than ever in the health programs history – the most grants awarded in a single year ever (even with the pandemic raging)! We continued to experience record growth during the pandemic!

First ever in Indian Country (and for a fifth year now) in collaboration with Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) regarding continuing medical education focused upon medical problems and conditions in Indian Country medicine and population health medical continuing education regard the health challenges of Native peoples.

                                                       “Thank You”

We are deeply proud of the huge selection of services and the professional care we provided to our AST Tribal Members and other Patients we cared for in 2020. As we all endeavor to continue the fight during this horrible pandemic, we all must remember the things that are important, such as our families, the Tribe, and our communities we live and work in. Things are going to continue to be challenging, but will get better one day and must not forget the good things that have occurred along with the challenging things we also endure. Be well, stay healthy, and thank you for your support of the AST Health Programs!