The Norman Transcript

May 18, 2013

Nonprofithealth care centers Variety Care and Health for Friends to merge

By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — In an effort to serve Cleveland County’s medically under-served residents, Health for Friends, a Norman nonprofit community health center since 1985, is merging with Variety Care, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center.

Andrew Rice, Variety Care Foundation executive director, and Lisa Schmidt, Health for Friends fund development manager, discussed the details of Health for Friends becoming a part of Variety Care on June 1 during the Tyner Cornbread and Beans luncheon Friday at Catering Creations.

The merge will maximize on the strengths of both organizations, Rice said, allowing the new, joint venture to offer increased, efficient and quality service.

“It’s Health for Friends with all these added bonuses that are going to help us care for the population a lot more,” Rice said.

The merge will offer medical, dental, mental health and optometry services for the whole family. Services are available on a sliding fee scale based on household income. Medicaid/SoonerCare, Medicare and private insurances also are accepted.

Other community and social services also will be provided.

Norman locations include the Health for Friends clinic at 317 E. Himes St., and the Women and Children’s Center at 1124 N. Porter Ave., Rice said, as well as a small primary care site at a community mental health organization at the Griffin Memorial Hospital. Variety Care has nine existing sites throughout Oklahoma listed on its website at varietycare.org.

Rice said medical providers, including physicians and nurse practitioners, at Variety Care are full-time employees and offer patients personal, continued care.

Schmidt said the merge will allow for increased and improved medical care to the community’s most vulnerable individuals, including those in poverty and without insurance.

“Because we’re in the business of helping people with affordable, accessible health care things have been really great at Health for Friends, if you measure in those terms,” Schmidt said. “There is a lot of need on what we have to deliver, which is high-quality, affordable care.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Variety Care now because we know the increased services and the real benefits to the friends and neighbors — the people that all of us know here in Norman who use those services, who will have access to more services — will increase our capacity to help immensely.”

For more information on Variety Care, visit varietycare.org.

Hannah Cruz

366-3533

hcruz@normantranscript.com