The Norman Transcript


January 27, 2013

Pottawatomie County's free clinic a microcosm of Issues facing state



 Even though each Thursday’s two volunteer physicians are expected to take only 10 patients each, they generally wind up seeing more, and the pharmacy volunteers have their hands full dispensing drugs to 50 or so people who show up every week for refills.

Last year, clinic doctors saw 857 patients. The pharmacy team dispensed 5,362 prescriptions with a retail value of $186,000.

The clinic subsists on about $16,000 a year, of which more than $14,000 is used to buy medicine. Most of the money is donated by United Way. No government funding is involved, except for Copeland’s half-time wages at the Health Department.

Pharmacist Mike Vorndran oversees the prescription refills. Most of the medications are for chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The clinic doesn’t dispense pain pills or antidepressants.

 Vordran gets some of the pills at no cost from doctors, who give him their free samples, and from nursing homes, which donate their residents’ unused meds. He buys the remainder from distributors at heavily discounted rates.

 “We see people who literally have to decide between buying groceries and buying their prescriptions,” he says. “I just felt that this was a way I could help alleviate some of that.”


They keep calling

As 7 p.m. approaches, Lena Garvin is still sitting in the packed waiting room, waiting patiently to get her prescriptions refilled. She says she’s glad to be sitting anywhere, after the heart attack she experienced last July.

Garvin, 51, says she was preparing food at a Burger King franchise in Yukon when her heart seized up. Her half-time job there paid $7.50 an hour. She was not eligible for health insurance.

She was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oklahoma City, where emergency room personnel inserted a metal stent in one of her coronary arteries. A few weeks later, they inserted a second one.

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