SAPULPA — When her access to medical care became a bigger concern recently, Sheena Jackson did the only thing she knew to do.
She called on a higher power.
“It really is an answer to my prayers,” Jackson said Tuesday of the new Cura Medical Clinic in Sapulpa, as she and her husband, Michael, waited to get checked in.
The Jacksons, who live in Oilton, drove 30 miles to visit the clinic and were among several first-time patients taking advantage of its free primary care services.
Cura, 1012 W. Taft St., serves residents who don’t have insurance and is currently open one evening a week — 6-8 p.m. every Tuesday.
The need for it is already evident.
The volunteer-run clinic, occupying a small donated space in a shopping center, is able to see up to 16 patients on Tuesdays. It welcomed nine on July 23, its first time to be open. This Tuesday, with word having spread, a line of around 30 were waiting when the doors opened. The office phone had 40-plus messages.
The demand will present challenges, said Sam Elzay, clinic administrator and physician’s assistant, adding that he was sorry to have to ask the later arrivers to come back next week.
But he said he feels “really good” about the clinic’s strong start. It testifies to “the support of everybody involved, which has been encouraging and optimistic,” Elzay said.
The free clinic is part of Cura for the World, a nonprofit organization on a mission to plant medical clinics in remote communities around the globe. Founded by Dr. T.J. Trad, a Stillwater cardiologist, Cura currently operates in four other countries and is expanding.
Two Tulsa-area urgent care physicians, Dr. Rachel Ray and Dr. Zach Fowler, are behind the Sapulpa clinic, and said it grew out of their shared desire to reach the “medically underserved” locally.
Starting their own nonprofit would have been a difficult undertaking, Ray said, but their former Oklahoma State University classmate and friend, Trad, had already done that with Cura and had built a successful model.
“We talked to him and he said we could partner with him and start the first (Cura) clinic in the United States,” Ray said.
Creek County was a natural fit, as it’s one of the state’s poorer counties and has a shortage of health care services.
Cura’s plan is to eventually have a clinic like the one in Sapulpa in all 50 states.
Added Fowler: “Cura is Latin for a helping hand. We are trying to embody that and embrace that.”
The clinic is staffed by at least six volunteers every week — two medical providers, along with nurses and office staff.
Patients are seen first-come, first-served. Although the focus is Creek County, anyone who doesn’t have insurance will be admitted.
Among the 16 patients served this week, the Jacksons had been using their former clinic in Calvin, where they used to live, they said. It’s now 100 miles away and trips there make for an all-day affair.
A closer clinic in Payne County takes only residents from that county, they said.
“See what I mean when I say this is an answer to prayer?” Sheena Jackson said.
“I started praying about three weeks ago. And then we heard about this on the news.”
Jenny Box of Sapulpa was one of the patients Tuesday, waiting after her husband dropped her off.
“This is much closer for me,” she said, adding that she formerly used the Bedlam Clinic in Tulsa.
Without access to a free clinic, “I’d be in trouble. I’d probably be back in the hospital,” said Box, who’s dealing with complications from a previous blood clot in her leg.
Now that the Cura clinic is up and running, organizers can begin to think about their next steps.
The hope is to eventually add more hours and days.
Also, the clinic will soon have on site a charitable pharmacy, where prescriptions will be filled for free. Med-World Pharmacy in Sapulpa will be involved with that, and is currently working with the clinic to offer cheaper medications to patients. The clinic is opioid-free, with no narcotics or marijuana dispensed or kept on the premises.
Elzay said he and the others involved with the Sapulpa clinic believe strongly in the Cura mission.
“We are here to do good,” he said.
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