HARTINGTON — Dr. Steve Vlach has recently made the move to Oklahoma where he will be providing health care for the Choctaw Nation Indian Health Service.
The move marks the first time in 50 years that a Vlach will not be practicing medicine in Hartington.
Dr. Charles Vlach, Steve’s father, came to Hartington in 1962 to practice medicine here.
Steve has been providing medical care at the clinic in Hartington for close to 23 years.
He has been at the Hartington clinic since 1989, both part-time and full-time.
Vlach said he enjoys living in Oklahoma, although he misses family members.
“This is a nice place. It is beautiful. There are lots of lakes and forests,” he said.
Vlach was more than happy to leave behind the tangled mass of government regulations and restrictions when he made the move to Oklahoma to work with the Choctaw Nation Health Service.
Vlach has been frustrated and disappointed with the way the U.S. health care system has been going and he thinks it will only become more difficult in years to come.
“There is a lot of paperwork. Instead of practicing medicine, you are dealing with Medicare and insurance companies,” Vlach said. “It will only get worse. People don’t realize the complexity of Obama-care and how bad it could get. This is a peak time for government regulations right now — it will not be good.”
Vlach is happy he no longer has to deal with all of the government restrictions when he provides medical care to his patients.
The Choctaw Nation has its own governing structure and thus does not have to conform to all of the same federal regulations that restrict other medical institutions across the country.
Vlach is on the staff of a medical clinic in Atoka which is part of the Choctaw Nation Health Service.
“It is a family practice. We take care of about everything,” Vlach said. “The clinic I am at is well supplied. The Atoka clinic has some of the best equipment in the nation. It is a phenomenal facility.”
The facility services an area that includes 10 and one-half counties in southeastern Oklahoma.
The Choctaw Nation Health facilities include several clinics along with a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment and furnishings.
The Choctaw Nation Health Service provides medical assistance to tribal members and those who have Indian blood, Vlach said. Health care is provided to those who live inside and outside of the tribal boundaries.
Proceeds from the Choctaw Nation businesses, which include seven casinos, generate millions of dollars annually that provide revenue to support health care, education, housing and other services.
In addition to the casinos, the Choctaw Nation has a manufacturing business, management service company, travel plazas, smoke shops, printing company and a document archiving company.