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capability to provide that care,” Bible says. The clinic has fi nancial support from surrounding churches and indi- viduals who make donations. Much of the equipment and tools have been donated. NEOEC, based out of Vinita, Okla., provided a grant through the co-op’s Operation Round Up program. The clinic used this grant to purchase a defi brillator that is compatible to the area’s ambu- lance service. “We have seen right at 1,200 patients,” Bible says. “I feel blessed to be a part of the clinic. There’s nothing to compare to the way it affects you.” As much as the volunteers enjoy their work, they also share a hope that someday the need for free clinics will be reduced to zero. According to Joseph Fairbanks, director at the OSDH Center for Health Innovation and Effectiveness, that goal may not happen for a long time, so clinics strive to receive the critical community support to help the medically needy in Oklahoma, especially those in rural areas. “We have other hopes, like being able to transition to a medical model of providing care that focuses on health outcomes,” Fairbanks says. “We would like to see people on an as-needed basis with an established pro- vider who has a relationship with the patients. We want to see them living longer, healthier lives. “ A life has been changed back at the Hope Dental Clinic. Even livelier than before, a now-confi dent Lamar has a spring in his step following his successful extraction. Clinic Director of Operations Tim Ball stops orga- nizing paperwork for the pharmacy inventory he will be doing in the afternoon to share one more smile and send the patient on his way. There is no time to rest. A timid footstep in the hallway sends Ball out the door with a clipboard and a question. “What’s bothering you today?”


How to Get Involved


Improving the health of communities is a great feeling according to Ronald Oyle, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative member. Oyle is a pharmacist and volunteer for the Etowah Baptist Charity Pharmacy in Noble, Okla.


The free pharmacy began in 2002 to supply free medication to those living in poverty. The pharmacy is open every fourth Tuesday of the month and fi lls about 120 prescriptions each session.


“If we had been selling that medication, it would have been close to $2 million dollars,” Oyle says. “What’s even more amazing is we only have 35 church members providing continued support.”


To get involved in your community, here are two recommendations from OSDH:


As a clinic: Visit the Oklahoma Volunteer Charitable Healthcare Provider Program: http://www.ok.gov/health/Organization/Center_for_Health_Innovation_and_ Effectiveness/Offi ce_of_Primary_Care/Oklahoma_Volunteer_Charitable_Healthcare_ Provider_Program_/index.html


As an individual: Contact your nearest free medical clinic to see if there is an unmet need and what degree of education might be required.


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