When the first Bedlam (now known as Community Health) clinic opened, Tulsa faced a plunging economy with more than 25,000 jobs lost in just 18 months. Consequently, healthcare coverage was lost, and hospital emergency rooms became critically overtaxed. Seeing a community in need, the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, took a leadership role in facing this crisis and in finding a solution.
Community Health is an innovative, collaborative program that has provided affordable healthcare to the indigent and underserved in Tulsa County since 2003. Interactive clinics are medical homes to nearly 14,000 at-risk school children, residents of public housing, isolated elderly, single parents and working poor each year.
In addition, the model provides an essential teaching component to OU medical, pharmacy and nursing students. Hands-on training strengthens clinical skills, overall curriculum and cultural competency while heartening an appreciation for volunteerism and efficient clinic operation.
Through compassionate care and preventive education, patients are empowered to take responsibility for their health and disparities are removed. Our OU Physicians Community Health (a department under the OU School of Community Medicine) is keeping families healthy and kids in school, alleviating emergency room use and realizing lasting positive impact. And via a strategic expansion plan, the School of Community Medicine intends to improve the health status of underserved populations and transform traditional healthcare.