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Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center seeking applicants for optometrist


Benny Polacca

The Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center is seeking an optometrist to oversee the eye clinic’s functions.

Current optometrist Dr. Marshall Walker announced his resignation effective April 27, said Dr. Ron Shaw who is CEO of the WHC in Pawhuska. In the meantime, the optometrist position is being advertised.

A job posting for the optometrist position is now listed on the Osage Nation website under “Osage Nation Government – Available Positions.”

On March 15, Shaw told the ON Health Authority Board he was informed Walker has accepted another job in Stillwater where he currently lives. Walker started working for the WHC in November 2015 after the Nation entered into an Indian Health Service compact agreement and the clinic received its rebranded name. 

Shaw said the optometry clinic had a “bare bones staff” with Walker, an unfilled assistant position, and an office staffer and said there are still plans to hire an optometry technician to assist the next optometrist with duties including eye screenings. “As soon as we get that next person lined up to hire, we’re going to repost the optometry tech position… to have someone do the screenings and it will be more efficient.”

Clinic Manager Paula Stabler also told the health board new optometry equipment that had been ordered has gone through delays in the order processing that’s lasted a year and the order is coming from overseas.

During the 2017 Hun-Kah Session, the Fifth ON Congress approved $516,000 for new up-to-date optometry and X-ray equipment in the clinic. The money was appropriated to the Nation’s Capital Asset and Improvement Fund.  

On a related note, Stabler said the clinic’s dental department is awaiting custom-built patient chairs that were ordered. The clinic purchased a new dental 3-D X-ray machine, which arrived in March and staff underwent training on using the machine, she said.   

According to the optometrist job posting, the hired person must have a Doctor of Optometry degree; current/ unrestricted license to practice in Oklahoma and at least two years of clinic work experience.

Original Publish Date: 2018-04-06 00:00:00

Benny Polacca

Title: Senior Reporter


Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.


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