Apache Tribe taking steps to keep facilities healthy

  • A worker wipes down a slot machine at Apache Casino Hotel in Lawton.

LAWTON – The Fort Sill Apache Tribe – with its Apache Casino Hotel in Lawton – has been working diligently to ensure their facilities are as healthy as possible.

Brady Jones, vice president of design and development-director of facilities at the Apache Casino Hotel explained to Southwest Ledger that fresh, clean air in their casino and other properties is paramount to good health and a pleasant experience.

“The more airflow you have, the better at fighting the virus you are,” Jones said.

Jones said that between the constant electrostatic spraying in rooms and on surfaces throughout their casino and other Fort Sill Apache properties, they are using CARES dollars to battle coronavirus where it is – in the air.

Jones highlighted the recently installed Global Plasma Systems where plasma air is pumped through HVAC systems in the casino and other tribal buildings in and charges the molecules in the air while fighting airborne viruses of all types, including COVID-19.

“It makes the air smell better and helps with allergies,” he added.

The process allows for a high concentration of ions, which delivers them through the HVAC system. Once in the airstream, ions attach to particles and pathogens. In the instance of the latter, the ions disrupt the pathogens’ surface proteins, which ultimately renders these viruses inactive, creating to a safer environment.

That said, social distancing and masks are a must at Apache Casino Hotel, as General Manager Lynn Ray explained.

If someone tries to enter the casino, and they are belligerent about mask wearing, Ray said, “We are not a hospital or a grocery store. It’s a place you don’t have to go. If you don’t want to follow the rules, you don’t need to be here.”

Ray said that the tribe is merely following scientific recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Along those lines, Ray said smoking is no longer allowed on the premises. Too many people were taking a smoke break and just lingering, so it was banned outright, although a designated smoking area may soon be implemented on the property away from the main public areas.

“I think it’s about having a ‘can-do’ attitude,” Ray said. “It’s about doing it for the team. And the teams are the ones that believe in it. If they see someone who is not complying, they can inform a manager or supervisor and they can be told to wear a mask. If they do not, they will be asked to leave. It’s as simple as that. Of course if they do (mask up), they are welcome back.”

Jones said that the tribe went the extra mile by having a property survey conducted to see what surfaces were contaminated with coronavirus. As it turned out, he said, it was on elevator buttons and in the “usual locations you expect to find them.”

Regarding the elevator buttons, Jones said employees are required to wipe them down every time they use an elevator.

“There were no hits on slot machines,” Jones said, adding that the electrostatic efforts that have been implemented have been a success.

“We wipe everything down, in and out,” he said.

Additionally Plexiglas has been installed all over the property to further protect
both visitors and employees alike.

Overall, Jones said, Apache Casino Hotel has “taken a long-term approach” to mitigating the effects of the pandemic.