The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 26, 2013

Free clinic microcosm of Oklahoma's health coverage challenge


SHAWNEE, Okla. — Too many people

Copeland’s volunteer roster contains the names of about 80 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, clerks and other helpers. On any given Thursday evening, about 20 people pitch in.

But it’s not quite enough to keep up with rising demand. On this night, five people will be told they’ll need to wait at least a week to see a doctor.

“It’s getting worse all the time,” said Ty Johnson, who shows up every week to handle patient intake. She bustles about the crowded clinic with a clipboard, calling out names and handing out paperwork. “We’re getting more and more people.”

Not everyone makes the cut. To qualify, patients must be Pottawatomie County residents, must have no other form of insurance coverage, and must fall below income caps that are considerably lower than those contained in the Obama expansion plan.

“There is just more need than we can handle,” said Stephanie Scrutchins, who determines eligibility.

Copeland, for her part, doesn’t even mention her connection to the governor, acknowledging it only after a visiting reporter brings it up.

“She’s doing a good job,” Copeland said of her niece.

She also declines to discuss Fallin’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion.

“You know, I don’t get into politics,” she said. “I just run my little business here. Hopefully, we’ll do all that we can for the people that come in. Right now, I’m looking at all the returns I’ve got for next Thursday night, wondering how in the world we’ll get them done.”

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state.

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