Check-up catches mom’s cancer

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A single mom, Brittany was experiencing emotional distress, when she walked through the doors of Family Healthcare Clinic, a United Way partner agency, for the first time in two years.

The 47-year-old had received a free mammogram and other cancer screening two years ago, but due to lack of insurance and limited financial resources, that was the only medical care that she had received for many years.  In December of 2016, Brittany became eligible for Medicaid and called Family Healthcare, greatly relieved to finally be able to attend to her health needs.

During Brittany’s first appointment with Family Healthcare for what she assumed would be a routine checkup, the provider ordered several screening labs, including diabetes and cholesterol. The blood work was performed that same day. Brittany also presented with blurry vision and proved to be very near sighted in one eye.

Because the lab results proved positive for diabetes, Brittany was immediately referred to an optometrist for further screening.  Although Medicaid normally does not cover routine vision care, FHC knew that diabetic eye care would be covered.

The optometrist also had some concerns and referred her on to ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist diagnosed her with a very rare, and life threatening condition:  melanoma of the eye with a tumor over 1/4th the size of the eye!  Brittany was sent immediately to a Tulsa hospital for another screening which resulted in emergency surgery.

“I credit this with saving my life,” Brittany said.

Because of the seriousness of Brittany’s medical condition, the hospital performed cancer screenings of other parts of her body and incidentally determined that Brittany also suffers with gall stones. Although not nearly so serious, Brittany is grateful that this condition was also diagnosed so that follow-up treatment can be initiated.

Family Healthcare Clinic receives critical United Way funding to allow them to provide affordable healthcare to other patients like Brittany. United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community, and 38 percent of allocated dollars are devoted to health.

A 2015 Community Profile commissioned by the Bartlesville Regional United Way found that health is still a challenge in our area. Oklahoma is ranked 43rd in the nation in health, nearly last place. Thirty-two percent of adults are obese. Oklahoma ranks 48th in cardiovascular health, 43rd in cancer deaths and 44th in infant mortality.

Contributing to the challenge is the lack of health insurance. According to the most recent report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 12.9 percent of people in Washington County had no health insurance, and 16.2 percent of people in Nowata County lack insurance. Countless others are under-insured or have high deductible policies.

“United Way knows that Family Healthcare Clinic fills a critical gap in our community,” Bartlesville Regional United Way Marketing Manager Abigail Singrey said. “By allowing uninsured patients to receive medical care with only a $30 payment, and by providing doctors willing to accept Medicaid patients, it makes it where everyone in our community can get critical check-ups.”

The United Way funding is helping Family Healthcare Clinic win the fight for affordable healthcare for low-income families. Last year, 74 percent of the patients seen at the clinic had a household income of less than $25,000. Last year, FHC was able to provide 2,150 appointments, and 685 people received medical care through the Clinic.

“By uniting with Family Healthcare Clinic, we are building a healthier community,” CEO and President Lisa Cary said. “When people are healthy, that gives them the foundation they need to have success in other areas of their life.”