According to recent findings published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives, followed by heart disease. American Indians have the highest prevalence of tobacco use of any population in the U.S. and are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites.
These alarming statistics serve as evidence for the demand and need for Indian health systems, like the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), that provide access to a variety of services and programs dedicated to improving Native American health. These specific healthcare systems ensure that the American Indian community has early access to primary and preventive care, which is essential in preventing chronic diseases, and provide the necessary treatment and education to help combat contributing factors that influence these diseases.
Locally, OKCIC provides high-quality healthcare and wellness services to urban Indians in central Oklahoma. August marks 40 years since it opened its doors.
Over the years, it has expanded its services from general medical practice to also include dental, optometry, pediatrics, prenatal, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health. OKCIC also offers eight different programs dedicated to helping patients prevent or manage diabetes, receive breast health and heart disease education, participate in youth and family activities that promote wellness and receive one-on-one mentoring.
Where the clinic struggles to meet the needs of patients is in the pharmacy. In 2013, the OKCIC pharmacy staff filled more than 200,000 prescriptions, all in a 900-square-foot workplace. There was a recognized a need for growth in this area so the clinic could service more patients, so the center raised funds for a new, 7,000-square-foot pharmacy that will give staff the capacity to fill more than 400,000 prescriptions a year, hold educational seminars and provide confidential patient consultation.
Additionally, the new pharmacy will include drive-through operations that will add convenience and help provide the area Native American community better patient care. Pharmacy construction is scheduled to start in 2015.
OKCIC’s mission is to provide excellent health care to American Indians. By providing comprehensive primary care to more than 18,000 patients from more than 220 federally recognized tribes, it’s not only improving health outcomes for urban Indians but for the entire community.
Robyn Sunday-Allen is Cherokee, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in public health and a member of Oklahoma Nurses Association and Oklahoma Public Health Association. She has worked with Oklahoma City Indian Clinic since 1995 and is now its CEO.
Print headline: August marks the 40th year for OKCIC