Planned Parenthood in Tulsa adds family practice
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
8/21/12 at 8:11 AM
Until three months ago, Planned Parenthood in Tulsa was limited in what health-care services it could provide.
But the consolidation of two affiliates of the family planning nonprofit organization has added more general-practice health-care services to its Tulsa centers, emphasizing more family-centered medicine.
Senior clinician Amie Otterstrom said it is not unusual for a person who has avoided health care to go to Planned Parenthood, usually seeking contraception.
Now if it is determined that the patient has other medical problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, a doctor is available for treatment.
"It is so much easier to get a person in for the care they need, rather than sending them out with a recommendation to go to another clinic across town," Otterstrom said. "We never knew if they ever followed up."
"When we see a person, it may be the first time they have accessed any health-care system in years," she said. "If we recognize some other issues, we can continue to address those. A patient may get a foot in the door wanting family planning, but now it is easier to get that person medical care."
The consolidation of Planned Parenthood of Arkansas-Eastern Oklahoma and Planned Parenthood Heartland began in July 2011.
Tulsa is included in the Heartland affiliate, with Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
The new structure added some support personnel in the affiliate clinics that were ramping up family services, and the administration expanded to include positions in development, marketing, legislative, legal and education areas.
Pediatrics and prenatal services have been offered for years, but the affiliate expanded to offer a family practice in May, said Angie Axdahl, director of family services for the Heartland affiliate.
"We saw we were not meeting the patients' needs in Oklahoma and knew we can serve patients better," she said. "It is not just an Oklahoma issue. We are a nonprofit with a goal to expand services to meet all patient needs."
Unlike its family planning services, the family practice is not income-based, but it does accept patients from SoonerCare, the state's Medicaid program.
About 90 percent of patients are SoonerCare recipients, Axdahl said.
The nonprofit organization's facility at 1007 S. Peoria Ave. has the most comprehensive services, including a pharmacy, family practice, family planning and pediatric clinic. About 11,000 patients were served in the Tulsa metro area in fiscal year 2011.
"It is constantly busy, and we are averaging 50 new patients a week," Axdahl said.
The agency also offers services at 4733 S. Union Ave., 5780 S. Peoria Ave. and 818 S. Aspen Ave. in Broken Arrow.
A significant change is the addition of a single call center based in Iowa to schedule services for the Heartland affiliates. The center receives about 30,000 calls a month for the four states from people seeking appointments and information.
Walk-ins represent about 50 percent of the office's business, but the call center is intended to provide more consistent customer service, Axdahl said.
Planned Parenthood was founded to help in advocating for family planning, including affordable access to birth control.
"We are a whole lot more than that now," Otterstrom said. "We treat the whole family. Family planning is one small part of health care, and it involves the whole family. It's not just a women's issue. But we are able to take care of children from pregnancy all the way through their growth.
"This is great for Tulsa County, for our patients and for our employees. It's an exciting time."
Original Print Headline: Planned Parenthood expands services
Ginnie Graham 918-581-8376
Amie Otterstrom, a nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood, says clients get better care under the new operation. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
"A patient may get a foot in the door wanting family planning," says Amie Otterstrom, "but now it is easier to get that person medical care." JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World