The Norman Transcript

Local news

January 27, 2013

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

SHAWNEE — Inside a cramped clinic office, Dorthea Copeland prepares for the weekly pilgrimage of poor people seeking free health care. They’re already lining the hallway, trading tales of sore throats and bum tickers.

“Some of these people just lost their insurance. Some of them work, but don’t make very much. Some of them are self-employed,” says Copeland, a feisty 85-year-old who’s been running Pottawatomie County’s free clinic since it opened 14 years ago.

“You can usually tell by looking at them that most of them really need the help.”

Copeland is in charge of recruiting doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other helpers who donate their time on Thursday evenings to help Pottawatomie County residents who don’t have health insurance and don’t qualify for government assistance.

Coincidentally, she’s also the aunt of Gov. Mary Fallin, who grew up in Tecumseh as Mary Copeland. In November, Fallin rejected an Obama administration offer to finance much of the cost of expanding Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. If Fallin had accepted, many of the people filing into the clinic this evening would be eligible to

participate.

Pottawatomie County’s free clinic is a microcosm of the health coverage challenge facing Oklahoma policy-makers. Fallin’s decision to reject the Medicaid expansion has left an estimated 130,000 or more low-income Oklahomans in a coverage crater that offers few options for affordable health care. The problem tends to be more pronounced in smaller towns and rural areas, where incomes often are lower and employers less likely to offer benefits.

Asked to comment on the clinic operation, Fallin praised the work that Copeland and others are doing, describing her aunt as “a wonderful lady who has spent much of her career dedicated to helping other Oklahomans.”

The governor said she is looking for ways to address the coverage crater, but remains convinced that the Obama initiative is “unaffordable and unworkable.” Even with the federal government picking up much of the tab, Fallin’s office contends the expansion would increase state spending by $689 million over 10 years. Advocates of expansion counter that the cost to the state would be minimal.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • Norman firefighter performs Heimlich maneuver on Moore man after he chokes on food

    What started out as a normal night out for a Moore couple ended with them being thankful a firefighter was in the right place at the right time....

    July 22, 2014

  • 18-year-old killed; 72-year-old man, young boy injured

    Those involved in the wreck Friday near 136th Avenue and South Sooner Road were identified Monday by Oklahoma City police. Logan Rosado-Santoni, 18, was pronounced dead on the scene after the 4:30 p.m. multi-vehicle wreck. Two others were ...

    July 22, 2014

  • New AP program to begin in Norman

    NORMAN — Norman Public Schools Board of Education learned about Advanced Placement Capstone at a regular board meeting Monday....

    July 22, 2014

  • Moore City Council paves way for Sam’s Club location

    MOORE — The Moore City Council approved a $5 million bond Tuesday to be repaid with sales tax and utility revenues. “A good amount of street improvements needs to be done,” Moore City Manager Steve Eddy said. “This will be paid for with ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Crime briefs

    Woman charged with assault A Norman woman was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon Monday after admitting that she threw a knife at someone, court records show. Jamie Marie Rietz, 32, was charged in Cleveland County ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Jeremy Ryan Sellers, 20, second-degree burglary and malicious injury to property under $1,000 in concert and together with Ryan ...

    July 22, 2014

  • County want details of insurance coverage

    Cleveland County commissioners will formally request particulars on their insurance coverage from the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma Self Insurance Group....

    July 22, 2014

  • Stewart journeys from volunteer to director at Women’s Resource Center

    Kristy Stewart walked into the Women’s Resource Center as a volunteer 30 years ago. The volunteer work soon turned into a staff position, and that one into another and another and so on. Along with the new responsibilities came her ...

    July 21, 2014

  • garnervisit1 Family, friends recall Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California. Norman resident Roy Hamilton, who grew ...

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • James Garner James Garner dies at 86

    NEW YORK — Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety....

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos