Great Salt Plains Health Center: serves those who are not served

By: RandyYoumans

CHEROKEE (Okla.) — Great Salt Plains Health Center is a nonprofit that focuses on serving the underserved. It was established in Alfalfa County and has expanded to several surrounding counties.

Tim Starkey, GSP CEO since 2008, stated that “we are focused on communities who don’t have clinics or hospitals.”

Guymon, a former hospital administrator, started with five employees at GSP’s Cherokee original location. GSP now has 80 employees in four locations, a more than ten-year-old tradition.

Affordable health care

Great Salt Plains Health Center’s mission is “to increase access to comprehensive primary care and preventive care to all” and to improve the health status of underserved and vulnerable populations in GSP Health’s geographic area. The company’s motto on its website is better access equals better care.

Starkey explained that GSP aims to make Snap Fitness affordable health care available to rural Oklahomans.

He said that he could see anyone, whether they were insured or not.

How can they do this?

Great Salt Plains Health Center, a non-profit medical organization, is a Federally Qualified Health Center. GSP is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and can be eligible for federal grant money to provide primary, dental, and  behavioral health services.

According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, a unique model of a health center (FQHC), was developed to lower healthcare costs and save the American taxpayer.

Caretaking great salt plains health center

Great Salt Plains Health Center Inc. was established in 2007 as a 501 (c)(3) after a group of citizens from Alfalfa County learned of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Primary Health Care’s funding opportunity for FQHC sites to be built in high-poverty areas across the country.

Great Salt Plains Health Center applied for a second site in Medford, Grant County, 38 mi of Cherokee when BPHC offered another opportunity to apply for FQHC sites. More than 4,500 people lived in the county and needed access to local health care.

Continued expansion great salt plains health center 

Great Salt Plains Health Center was granted permission to apply for a new FQHC site in 2016. This time, it was for Canton, Blaine County, 55 mi south of Cherokee. Before that, 500 residents of Canton received half-day care once per week from Okeene Municipal Hospital.

GSP in Canton was established in 2017 with two nurses practitioners and a behavioral therapist.