SAPULPA, Okla. – A free health care clinic opened Tuesday evening in Creek County, where the United States Census Bureau says more than 16% of the population is uninsured.
Inside the small clinic in Sapulpa, a medical movement is about to be put in motion.
“God's put us all here to help each other,” said pharmacist Travis Wolff. “I think we either thrive together or we die alone. So we're here to make sure everyone thrives.”
Cura Medical Clinic is on a mission to give free medical care to those without insurance.
“Cura in Latin means a helping hand, so it makes sense,” said cardiologist Dr. T.J. Trad.
Dr. Trad founded Cura for the World three years ago as an international non-profit. His proven model operates in four overseas countries, with a fifth being built.
Dr. Trad earned his undergraduate, masters and medical degrees from Oklahoma State University, so he knows there's a great need for health care help in the United States as well.
“This is something just unreal to think in a country like this, leader of the free world that you have so many gaps in every, single state,” said Trad.
He says his research shows at least 24 million Americans are uninsured.
“The majority of uninsured in the country are working uninsured. They're your baristas, they are your waitresses, some workers outside. Those are contributing members of our society,” Trad said.
Trad says Creek County was picked for Cura’s first United States clinic because it’s one of the poorest counties in the state with 16-percent of residents living in poverty and uninsured.
“I expect because of the need that we do have in this county that things are gonna take off pretty fast,” said physician assistant and clinic administrator, Sam Elzay.
Elzay, along with Dr. Zach Fowler and Dr. Rachel Ray, came up with the idea for the free clinic after watching their classmate, Dr. Trad, grow his medical clinics overseas. When they reached out to him about doing something similar in Oklahoma, Trad offered to bring Cura to the U.S.
“Let's create something by the people, for the people in order to solve a problem – no government involvement, nothing like that. We just wanted us to come together to do something,” Trad said.
He says one of the biggest issues is that so Americans don’t have insurance, they often don’t treat basic medical needs soon enough.
“If you catch anything early, the chance of it not turning into a disaster later is very high,” said Trad.
Cura Medical Clinic will offer basic medical care to help patients with everything from a runny nose to chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
“We're not just here for acute medicine. We're also here to help all those people who fall through the cracks and don't have insurance and need long-term regular follow up with blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a whole of other things that need chronic treatment,” Elzay said.
The clinic will also eventually fill prescriptions for free.
Pharmacists Travis and Sunni Wolff are in the process of opening a charitable that will be part of Cura Medical Clinic. It will never store narcotics, instead of medications for chronic diseases and antibiotics.
Wolff says 26% of written prescriptions never get filled because the patient can’t afford to pay for the medications.
“We feel fortunate to pair with really good doctors who are going to take excellent care of patients,” Wolff said.
Until the charitable pharmacy opens, the Wolffs will make medications available at MedWorld Pharmacy in Sapulpa for a minimal cost to the patient.
“A price that is even less than regional discount pharmacy programs,” Wolff said.
Wolff says Cura will also serve as a resource center for patients connecting them clothing shelters, food pantries and information to help manage chronic diseases and nutrition – meeting an overall need that is long overdue.
“The problem is very real right here near us and we're able to have that impact,” Wolff said.
Volunteer doctors and medical staff will run the Cura Medical Clinic. For now, it will only be open on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Dr. Trad says the goal is to expand hours in the future and eventually operate five days a week, something that can only happen with added resources and more volunteers.
“What really I'm proud of is the people that I work with. The power of the collective is much stronger than the power of the individual,” said Trad.
The clinic is located off Old Highway 66 at 1012 West Taft next to the Walmart.