The prognosis is looking pretty dire for a medical clinic that provides free care in downtown Oklahoma City. The Good Shepherd clinic is in danger of closing.
Last year the clinic logged 16,000 patient visits. Many thought with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act the need for clinics like this would drastically decrease. But it turns out it was just the opposite.
Maryjane Fisher was seeing a doctor Tuesday morning at the Good Shepherd Clinic because of an ear infection and some hip pain. She comes here for all her medical care.
“I can’t afford to go anywhere else,” said Fisher.
She had anticipated when the Affordable Care Act took effect she would be able to get health insurance.
“I thought I would be able to afford something, nope. It didn’t happen for me,” she said. “I’m not the only one. I have a few friends that are in the same predicament as me.”
She falls into a gap created when Oklahoma declined expanded Medicare coverage and because of that insurance through the Affordable Care Act still costs too much. Those are a lot of the patients they see at the clinic.
Still nationwide, there has been a 40% increase in demand at free clinics over the last two years.
“A lot of times the deductibles are playing a factor on it too. People can’t afford to go to the doctor with the deductibles they have,” explained Pam Timmons, Executive Director of the Good Shepherd Clinic.
The Good Shepherd Clinic provides dental, medical and pharmacy care for their patients. A grant allowed them to expand but now donations aren't keeping up with expenses.
“I think basically the community is not aware the needs are not being met,” said Timmons. “I think they think the Affordable Care Act is taking care of everybody and it’s not.”
Timmons says they have already started laying off staff, and if things don't change in 6 months Timmons say they will have to close their doors, leaving those like Fisher with few options.
“If it wasn’t for this clinic I would be really in a bind,” said Fisher.
The best way to donate to save the Good Shepard Clinic is through their web site. www.GoodShepherdOKC.org
Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act ends January 31.