Nonprofit health centers provide accessible care
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, August 02, 2012
8/02/12 at 4:37 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Supporters of community health centers were at the state Capitol on Wednesday to stress the role they play in providing health care.
Gov. Mary Fallin has declared next week "Health Center Week" in Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, more than 130,000 people receive health care through 17 nonprofit organizations that operate more than 40 sites, said Greta Stewart, executive director of the Oklahoma Primary Care Association.
"We are pleased to announce there will be six additional sites in Oklahoma as of October of this year," she said.
The nonprofit organizations provide preventive, primary, oral and behavioral health services on a sliding fee scale based on the ability to pay.
They also accept Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance and offer a discounted pharmacy.
"It is a known fact that it is cheaper to prevent than to treat," Stewart said. "So basic access to health care for all Oklahomans makes a lot more sense to me."
Barbara Wilson received services from the Community Health Connection in Tulsa.
She said she recommends their services to friends. She is now a member of the board.
The health centers are run by patient-majority governing boards, said Judy Grant, community development director for the Oklahoma Primary Care Association.
"Oklahoma is ranked 49th in the nation in primary care physicians per 100,000 population," said Steve Ronck, deputy commissioner for community and family health services for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
"What that means is Oklahoma does not have enough primary care physicians compared to other states to take care of our citizens."
Oklahoma has between 600,000 and 700,000 people who are uninsured or under insured, he said.
In 2011, the centers had 400,000 patient encounters, Ronck said.
About 40 percent of the patients seen in 2011 were uninsured and 30 percent were enrolled in Medicaid, he said.
Original Print Headline: Community health centers tout health-care role
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465