Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive April 2016 Show 1616 Better Health Care Required

Better Health Care Required

The Healthy Community Collaborative for northeast Oklahoma City is seeking health solutions for one of the poorest areas in the state.
Better Health Care Required

Better Health Care Required

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Show Details

Show 1616: Better Health Care Required
Air Date: April 17, 2016



Rob McClendon: The United States spends significantly more on health care per capita than any other country in the world. Yet when it comes to life expectancy, we are close to two years below that of other developed nations. And that disconnect between paying more and getting less is especially acute in northeast Oklahoma City. Here is our Blane Singletary.

Blane Singletary: It’s a working lunch at Metro Tech in northeast Oklahoma City. The Lynn Institute for Healthcare Research is presenting their report after years of research into this region’s health care and overall wellness. And the news isn’t good.

Angela Cozby: A lot of the statistics unfortunately are a lot worse than Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, the state and the nation.

Blane: That’s Angela Cozby, director of research and planning at the Lynn Institute. Their study focused on a 20-square-mile area of northeast Oklahoma City, comprising about 22,000 people, mostly African-American. It’s one of the poorest areas in the state, and with it comes a high rate of high-risk health problems. Hypertension, stroke, diabetes and heart attack deaths are above the state and national averages. The area’s obesity rate is at 36 percent, which is higher than the full Oklahoma County rate of 29 percent.

Cozby: We looked at a variety of at-risk populations, but with northeast Oklahoma City, there’s definitely an immediate need when you look at the lack of resources as compared to other ZIP codes within the Oklahoma City boundaries.

Blane: That lack of resources manifests itself in many challenges for the area. For instance, these three ZIP codes only have two grocery stores, meaning access to healthy foods is limited. And despite its close proximity to the Oklahoma Health Center, there’s a lack of access to primary health care.

Cozby: There’s currently one primary care physician outside of the OU Health facility working within northeast Oklahoma City. That’s definitely one of the issues that the Healthy Community Collaborative Northeast Oklahoma City will look at.

Blane: And that’s the other big thing happening today. These 34 community leaders were not invited here by accident. They’ve been hand-picked to form that Healthy Community Collaborative. They come from all different backgrounds, including health care, fitness, education, community services and local government.

Cozby: The Healthy Community Collaborative Northeast Oklahoma City will continue to meet. And what they’ll do is, they’ll use the Lynn Lifestyle Summary as a guidebook to set two-year goals with a 10-year overall objective of improving the health.

Blane: Among the people in this roundtable is Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis. He’s the representative of Ward 7, which is covered by this area, and he says this action can’t happen fast enough.

John Pettis: Why not now? If not now, then when? Oklahoma City is one of the fastest growing cities in America. So why not focus in on the African-American community in Oklahoma City?

Blane: And part of the way he says things can start improving is by getting everyone in this community on the same page.

Pettis: No. 1, fully educating the community about what are the true health issues in northeast Oklahoma City. And the other point is to talk about the collaboration. How can the community collaborate with others? And so I think this is a great opportunity that has been presented for us.

Blane: Part of the solution, at least in the education part of it, could come from right here on the Metro Tech campus. Just across the way from this presentation, dozens of young, hopeful medical professionals are receiving the knowledge and hands-on training that they could use to serve communities just like this one. Alison Beckner teaches radiology.

Alison Beckner: I absolutely loved being an X-ray tech. But when I heard that there was a teaching position opening, I was just too tempted to give that up because I come from a family of teachers.

Blane: Beckner’s passion is passing on her passion to the next generation and getting them ready for the work force.

Beckner: They have to do what’s called a portfolio for me, where they take images that they’ve done, either in the lab or out in the field of real X-rays.

Blane: And local health care facilities can’t wait to sign this program’s graduates in radiology, nursing and other biomedical sciences to the payroll.

Beckner: Once they pass the registry, they can go and work in any hospital, clinical site, doctor’s office anywhere that they would like. We have some that like to stay here in this area, and we have some that do move on to other areas, but we have found a lot of the hospitals in this area love our students. And so being out there and getting to have hands-on experience, they are actually in the hospital with real patients, and it gives the hospitals a chance to get to know our students. And so we kind of get to just slide them right into those open positions when they come about.

Blane: These young budding professionals are a part of what the Lynn Institute calls the biggest asset in northeast Oklahoma City: the residents themselves. With this area’s rich heritage and pride in their community, Metro Tech takes these people in, gives them the tools they need and puts them back out into the community to combat this epidemic here or wherever they may go.

Beckner: What you do is gonna help save lives. So it’s just a very rewarding feeling knowing that you’re doing something that is gonna help someone.

Rob McClendon: Now when we return, we meet some nursing students trying to take the fear out of a doctor’s visit.