Chukchansi gives $700,000 to Oakhurst

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians pledged $700,000 to Community Medical Center-Oakhurst to buy mammography and X-ray equipment and upgrade the health center building.

“The Chukchansi tribal people live in the mountains here. It’s a win-win situation for us and for Madera County,” said Dustin Graham, chairman of the tribal council.

Graham said the one-time contribution came out of talks with the Madera County supervisors. The tribe and Madera County worked together through an advisory committee to determine this award.

Longtime Community supporter Ed Wilkins and his wife Sara, who is a Community Medical Foundation board member, have a long association with tribal members and also were involved in talks about the gift.

Graham said when he was watching debates among supervisor candidates he heard them mention the need for upgraded medical facilities. “I thought wouldn’t it be great if we give back to this clinic that our tribal members use,” he said. “Everybody’s eyebrows just sprang up and they got fire in their eyes when they heard it.”

Craig Castro, chief executive officer of Clovis Community Medical Center who also oversees the Oakhurst facility, said he certainly had that reaction.

"We are grateful to the Picayune Rancheria for its generosity,” said Castro. “This gift allows us to upgrade equipment and take the first big step towards having our Oakhurst facility be open round-the-clock. That's something we're working towards. It will take time and more money, but the gift from Chukchansi gives us a great start."

Currently, Community Medical Center-Oakhurst is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year. The center sees more than 20,000 patients annually for urgent care, 15,000 patients at the outpatient health clinic and nearly 11,000 people for X-rays.

This story was reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at ekennedy@communitymedical.org.