Oklahoma Caring Van
The signature program of the Oklahoma Caring Foundation (OCF) begins with the Caring Van specialists. These specialists are responsible for setting up each clinic, working with the health department’s nursing staff, coordinating paperwork and delivering preventive services in the communities.
The signature program of the Oklahoma Caring Foundation (OCF) begins with the Caring Van specialists. These specialists are responsible for setting up each clinic, working with the health department’s nursing staff, coordinating paperwork and delivering preventive services in the communities. Since 1999, the Oklahoma Caring Vans have delivered more than 279,000 vaccines to more than 153,000 underserved children.
The need for preventive services for low-income children in Oklahoma is ongoing and the specialists continue to find ways to provide those services by traveling to school districts across the state. Tina Hutchison, a Caring Van specialist in the Tulsa metro area, describes the importance of the Caring Van program services being offered in school districts. “The school nurses are grateful for our outreach. We assist these school districts by administering regular immunizations required by the state in addition to yearly flu shots. The nurses know that with our help, we are keeping their students healthy and in the classroom. That means less disruption and more consistency for the students, parents and the teachers. Our services are valued!”
Another service offered aboard the Caring Vans is Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings. According to America’s Health Rankings, Oklahoma is one of the 10 most obese states in the nation. The Oklahoma Caring Van program doesn’t take these surprising statistics lightly. In fact, every day the Caring Van specialists work harder to make Oklahoma healthier. The BMI screenings provide OCF with the opportunity to educate parents about keeping their child healthy. “I like sharing BMI information with parents. The screening results help us encourage parents to make changes in the diet and exercise regimens of their children that could lead to a lifetime of healthy outcomes,” said Andrea Oguinn, a Caring Van specialist who takes her van all over the Oklahoma City metro area.
Taking our vans to rural Oklahoma communities enables our team to set up mobile clinics just about anywhere.
The Caring Van specialists also take preventive services to rural parts of Oklahoma. Many children across Oklahoma don’t have their current immunizations because of the cost and/or lack of transportation. “Taking our vans to rural Oklahoma communities enables our team to set up mobile clinics just about anywhere,” explained Jamie Kucinski, a Caring Van specialist since 2012. “I know we are impacting the health and wellness of children in rural Oklahoma because our eight mobile vans serve the counties where 92 percent of Oklahoma children reside. This allows us to reach communities that otherwise may have not had these resources available.”
For some families, a language barrier prevents them from having their children immunized. “The Caring Van program aims to provide all Oklahomans access to preventive health services,” described bilingual Caring Van Specialist Maria Martinez. “So it’s really great that we are able to be out in the Latino communities offering our services to families where a language barrier may exist. We are able to work with the parents to explain who we are and how we can help their families stay healthier. We really are making a difference one child at a time.”