Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener, recently was invited to visit The Health and Wellness Center (HWC) in Poteau to learn about the care they provide for Oklahomans in Poteau and throughout rural, eastern Oklahoma.
HWC reports itself to be the largest rural community health center in Oklahoma, serving over 30,000 patients per year, employing 400-plus health care providers and staff, and with an annual operating budget of over $50 million. In addition to providing comprehensive, integrated primary care, HWC offers dental, behavioral health, psychiatry, optometry, pharmacy and substance use disorder treatment.
“May being Mental Health Awareness Month was the perfect time for me to visit HWC,” West said. “I appreciate their commitment to addressing our state’s mental health and substance use disorder challenges. I celebrate the work of this center as well as all our other mental health care providers in House District 3.”
West pointed out that people living in rural areas face special challenges getting health care and are more likely to report being in poor health. To address some of these barriers, HWC offers transportation assistance and charges patients on a sliding fee scale based on their income so that no one is denied care due to lack of insurance or inability to pay. They also employ integrated care specialists to make accessing care, as well as other community resources, as easy as possible for patients with chronic health conditions.
Today, HWC has seven health center sites, a mobile dental unit that regularly cares for schoolchildren and other community members, a mobile Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) unit, and two inpatient substance use disorder treatment facilities that allow individuals to heal alongside their families and reintegrate into their community.
HWC also recently expanded to operate 21 Head Start early-childhood education programs. In addition to providing free education, HWC Adventure Head Start programs provide healthy meals, connects families to community resources, and offer integrated health care services on a sliding fee scale.
“We are fortunate to have such a visionary organization that’s so passionate about improving not just access to care but the overall health of our community,” West said.
For more information about HWC, go to www.healthwellnessok.com or call 1-800-640-9741.
Rick West serves District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of LeFlore County.
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