Atoka County Divided on New Community Health Clinic - - No One Gets You Closer

Atoka County Divided on New Community Health Clinic


ATOKA COUNTY, OK--A Texoma town is divided on an issue some say could better the health and economy of those who live there.

Atoka mayor Bob Frederick is also one of the city's pharmacists. 

He says the city was approached by the Family Health Center of Southern Oklahoma about bringing a new clinic to town. A decision he and many locals say they support.

"Three or four physicians would come," said Frederick, "a host of nurses, possibly PAs. We were told to expect 25-30 employees. For the city of Atoka, that would be a major employer."

Atoka resident Glenda Byrd said: "I've taught in this county, in fact at Atoka High School for 37 years. And I happen to know that there is a dire need for health care."

The clinic--like it's other locations in Tishomingo and Coalgate--would operate on a sliding scale fee system based on a patients annual household income.

Mary Watson said: "We all have adequate insurance. We are concerned about people who don't. And there are multitudes of them."

There is a group of about 30 people from Atoka's hospital, however, who have signed an opposition letter that states brining in the new clinic could potentially push current patients out of their waiting rooms.

Hospital chairman David Burrage says he'd rather see a clinic that was locally operated.

"You want to provide service to the community, but you don't want to kill off all your providers," said Burrage. "My belief is, if you're going to have one, organize it in your own community. Don't have someone from another community come and run it."

Many locals say they don't understand why this group is opposed.

"I don't think they speak for the people of Atoka County."

Burrage says he would support the new addition if it could work in tandem with the hospital.

Mayor Frederick says the health center grew hesitant about investing in an Atoka clinic when its representatives found out the entire community wasn't on board. He says the clinic likely would have been completed in about one year.