Better network for Oklahoma County’s uninsured

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma County has a new plan to provide affordable health care for its uninsured residents who account for 20 percent of the population.

The Oklahoma County Community Health Network.

It's the result of business, political and medical leaders who started a commission in 2011 to organize the county's 30 charitable clinics and health centers.

Only Los Angeles and Dallas-Ft. Worth have more free health clinics.

Now, these clinics will work together, with the goal of offering faster services to more patients.

Good Shepherd Ministries began their mission 35 years ago, taking care of homeless people in a bar.

"Believing just like Jesus did, you meet people where they are, we decided the best place to have the clinic to begin with was in the bar, where they came," Good Shepherd Ministries Director, Dr. Fred Loper, said. 

Now, Good Shepherd helps nearly 1,200 uninsured patients a year but donated services are scarce.

For example, they only receive two volunteered MRI scans a month.

"But those are split among all the free clinics and all the patients in each clinic," Loper said. "So as you can imagine, the lineup to get an MRI done on your spine or anything else is a pretty long one."

But the new Oklahoma County Community Health Network is hoping to change that by getting clinics and physicians to work together more efficiently in one system.

To accomplish that, the new network will have a single referral source for patients' care.

It will convert clinics like Good Shepherd Ministries into a medical home for patients.

It will also establish a case management system for each person.

"Where nurses help these patients move through the system," Stanley Hupfeld said, Chair of the Board of Directors of Health Alliance for the Uninsured, which will operate the Oklahoma County Community Health Network. "Ensure that they're meeting their clinics, ensure that they've got transportation, that they're taking their medication and they're following their medical regiment."

The network is now looking for partners to make it work.

Doctors, nurses, etc. to volunteer services and facilities to those who desperately need it.

"We have very generous volunteerism spirit in Oklahoma County," Pamela Cross said, Executive Director of Health Alliance for the Uninsured. "We want to build on that and make it even stronger here."

Cross said they're trying to secure funds and volunteers to expand their staff.

If you would like to help, the number to Health Alliance for the Uninsured is (405) 286-3343.

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