The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 23, 2013

Community effort

Clinic offers help for the uninsured in Garfield County

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — On a recent Tuesday evening, 15 people waited outside the door of Enid Community Clinic for the 5 p.m. opening. Five minutes after the door was unlocked, 30 people were in the waiting room.

One of them was 47-year-old Andrea, who didn’t want to give her last name.

She and her husband rely on Enid Community Clinic for treatment of their diabetes, as well as Andrea’s lung disease, because neither has health insurance. Her husband is unable to work and is in his third round of applying for disability. Andrea works for a fast food restaurant.

“I just can’t afford it because I make minimum wage,” she said of her insurance options.

Andrea and her husband take five prescriptions each.

“I take three they send to Scheffe,” Andrea said.

Those medications cost less than $5. They get the other prescriptions, which are much more expensive, from the clinic.

In addition to Tuesday evening, when patients can see a physician, there is a nurse-led diabetes education clinic on Thursdays.

Patients can consult with a nurse between 9 and 11 a.m. most Thursdays.

It also is a service Andrea and her husband use.

“They even have a dietitian to help you,” Andrea said.

Janet Cordell, Enid Community Clinic coordinator, said the driving purpose in making the nursing clinic available is that it gives the clients more time with a medical provider.

“You can effect change if you develop a relationship,” Cordell said. “We don’t have time to develop relationships on Tuesday evenings.”

Cordell said on Tuesdays the clinic sees 50-60 patients, many of whom have chronic conditions such as diabetes, COPD and the like.

The clinic dispenses maintenance prescriptions for patients with chronic conditions so they do not have to see a physician so often.

Cordell said she notices a trend among the patients.

“We’re seeing a lot more people who are newly poor,” Cordell said. “They’ve always had insurance or always had a doctor.”

The clinic doesn’t try to duplicate services.

They don’t provide pregnancy tests or birth control services, prenatal care, mental health services, immunizations, physicals or anything a patient can get elsewhere for free.

Nor does the clinic provide dental services, though that’s not for lack of need.

“One of the biggest needs is dental care,” Cordell said.

“They can’t do everything, but they do what they can,” Andrea said.

In order to be eligible for treatment at Enid Community Clinic, the patient must:

• have no health insurance.

• have income no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

• be a Garfield County resident.

They need to bring proof of address and income for the entire household and two copies of their federal income tax forms for each earner.

The clinic runs on volunteers. On any given Tuesday evening there are several nurses and nursing students, two physicians, medical students or residents and an interpreter or two.