Women in this area needing obstetrical services will find more of a choice soon.

Northeastern Oklahoma Community Health Centers Inc. has hired a new midwife and is recruiting a second, Chief Executive Officer Lori Timmons told members of the agency’s board Tuesday. In addition, NEOCHC plans to add another obstetrician.

Board members also voted Tuesday to continue exploring a new site for the OB facility, which will consolidate all staff members and records in one location.

The new midwife will be on the job as soon as she receives certification from the local hospital, Timmons said.

“And we’ve interviewed another midwife,” Timmons said.

It’s not always easy for rural clinics to attract professional personnel. Timmons said it takes an average of 18 months from the first contact until a staff member is on the job.

Nationwide recruiters charge hefty fees for this service. However, Tahlequah has been more successful than some smaller communities because of the facilities and quality of life it offers.

“With the success of the recruited midwives, we should be OK until we find an OB who fits our program,” Timmons said.

The new Tahlequah clinic also will offer dental services, and the agency is continuing to recruit dental personnel.

NEOCHC has been successful with its plans to offer behavioral health services and has contracted with a Tulsa agency to provide that for patients. That professional will be based in the Hulbert clinic.

The agency’s marketing efforts also has exposed its services to additional patients. Timmons said NEOCHC has provided school physicals for students in the Hulbert and Lowrey districts. Representatives have appeared at health fairs, town meetings, and other promotional efforts.

Timmons asked board members to help distribute surveys for an Alzheimer’s grant. These surveys will go to caregivers of elderly people, relatives and others interested in the welfare of the area’s aging population.

She noted that NEOCHC serves more indigent patients than any other health care agency in Oklahoma. Still, its finances have improved dramatically over past year, when it was operating at a deficit. The agency is now in the black.

Board members also discussed continuing training, now being held on a monthly basis. Member Linda Crawford asked for an explanation of when board members should act, and when they should refer inquiries about services to the administration.

Members said it’s proper to let the administration handle questions regarding staff members or complaints, while the board should concentrate on setting policy and letting the administrations run day-to-day operations.

Board members will receive training through the Oklahoma Primary Care Association in October.

Two new prospective members were presented to the board. Beverly Grant and Renee Hill, both of Tahlequah, will be on next month’s agenda for election.

The board decided to revise its meeting time and date. Meetings now will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the Hulbert clinic. The meetings have been held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Board Chairman Rick Ward said sometimes there is a problem getting a quorum if the board waits until the last week of the month to meet.

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