By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A special “sneak peek” was held for the newly renovated Variety Care on Monday, which will be re-opened to the public soon.
The public celebration will be held 4 to 6 p.m. June 12 with a ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m. for the remodeled health care center located at 317 East Himes. Variety Care, formerly Health for Friends, provides health care services to everyone including those who are uninsured.
“I just couldn’t be more excited about what this represents for the people who are under-served now and people who are really vulnerable and don’t receive the kind of care all the time that they need,” said Lisa Schmidt, Variety Care Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships.
Schmidt said the remodeled facility is a much more efficient use of space that allows them to see many more patients in the Norman community and Cleveland County. She also said it’s been amazing that they have been able to deliver care, pretty much continuously, for an entire year.
“When you’re working with people who are volunteering their time or you’re working with doing a lot of fundraising - Variety Care started as a free clinic, Health for Friends started as a free clinic - there’s just a lot of interruptions and we really thing that that’s an important mark that we’ve been able to provide care to our patients on a very consistent basis,” she said.
Consistency is especially important when they are serving those on the verge of homelessness or already homeless, Schmidt added.
“They have nowhere else in Norman to go but Variety care,” she said. “We’ve really strengthened the safety net for everybody.”
Variety Care will have three health care facilities in Norman after receiving federal grant money including the recently remodeled facility at East Himes, one at 1124 North Porter Avenue and one location they are still searching for.
The location they are currently searching for will house a full-time dental care facility, said Lou Carmichael, CEO and executive director of Variety Care.
Those needing dental care are currently being served at a Variety Care in south Oklahoma City, which the foundation provides transportation for.
“We knew the need was there and we had a pretty good plan, but it was really the Norman community that kind of sealed the deal,” Carmichael said talking about the grant process.
That’s something you should be proud of and something you should know we’re counting on you for in the future because the federal grant says we’re not funding one health center, we’re not funding two health centers, we’re gonna fund three health centers in Norman and we have two of them up.”
There is also a small facility on the Griffin Memorial Hospital campus that serves severe mentally ill patients, which serves about 300 people annually. The Variety Care locations in Norman currently serves about 3,300 people total per year.
Carmichael said once the Himes location is complete and the Porter location is full, they should have the capacity to serve another 3,000 people.
In addition to those facilities, Variety Care executive director Andrew Rice said they also received a grant to help build a clinical space in Longfellow Middle School.
The space will only be about a tenth of the Himes location, but will help tremendously.
“The increase every year of children who go to that school who are on Medicaid or uninsured have no access to pediatrics and it’s that ability for them to get care,” Rice said.
Reservations are requested for the free open house at the newly remodeled Variety Care June 12.
To RSVP contact Lisa Schmidt at 405-312-9468 or 405-629-5269. RSVP’s will also be accepted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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