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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Arubah Clinic Expands to Better Serve

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

HEALTH CARE NEEDS: Arubah Clinic Executive Director Gary Nunley stands with Shelley Nachtigall, director of development and community relations, at Arubah Clinic, 1021 W. Main St. in Collinsville. The free clinic opened in 2011 and recently expanded its hours in order to better meet the needs of its growing number of patients.


EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers


Since opening its doors in 2011 to provide health care to the uninsured population, Arubah Clinic, 1021 W. Main St. in Collinsville, is continuing its efforts to remain responsive to its patients’ needs. Last year, in order to decrease patient wait times, the clinic expanded its hours.

Currently, Arubah opens every Monday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and on the third Saturday of the month at 8:30 a.m.

People start lining up at our doors well before we open just to make sure that they will be treated, says Executive Director Gary Nunley.

And, yet, “we still turn people away because of how many show up for treatment,” adds Shelley Nachtigall, director of development and community relations.

The clinic sees patients come from beyond Collinsville, including Owasso and the rest of the greater Tulsa area.

Arubah was founded by pediatric nurse practitioner Hilary Nicholson who opened the clinic in order to fill a need and to show people love, says Nachtigall.

While the clinic is faith-based, we welcome all individuals and do not discriminate, she continues.

Because the clinic now opens on Wednesdays, clinic doctors and nurses have specified that day to focus on seeing returning patients who are in need of follow-up appointments and treatment of their chronic conditions.

“This has allowed us to better track patients and more effectively manage their conditions,” Nunley says.

Nunley, an Owasso resident, was hired as Arubah’s executive director in 2014. With his more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofits, Nunley played a major role in helping the clinic develop its policies and practices, address needs, and determine its future path.

“We had to ask ourselves early on, what would it take to accomplish this mission?” he says, that mission being to provide quality care to restore the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of those under-insured or unable to obtain healthcare in the region.

As a completely privately-funded clinic, one of Arubah’s immediate needs revolved around funding, so Nachtigall was hired to oversee the clinic’s funding sources, including the management of donors and grants.

Nunley also worked to grow Arubah’s team of part-time health providers and community volunteers in order to create continuity of care for patients, he says.

The clinic offers general medical care, including laboratory and radiological services, care for colds, the flu, ear aches, rashes and other common illnesses, preventative services, and health education. In addition, the clinic features an extensive specialist referral network in the areas of counseling, chiropractic, physical therapy, podiatry, pediatrics, dental, vision, and reproductive health.

Patients also have the option for spiritual support.

“Some patients may be distressed or worried, so a volunteer will offer them prayer support but only if they want it,” says Nunley. “Oftentimes, spiritual support can be as important as medical care.

“We want patients to feel through their whole experience with staff
members that we’re here to help them.”

Nunley hopes to see the clinic’s future expansion include making Spanish interpreting services available on a specified day as well as regular dental care.

Currently, once a month Arubah offers dental screenings and services by the MobileSmiles Oklahoma dental van. “We would like to eventually provide dentists that can be on-call for patients as opposed to having to wait for weeks for the dental van,” he says.

As the clinic’s offerings grow, though, so do the clinic’s need for volunteers of all skill levels and areas, he continues. This includes health providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and office workers.

The clinic also accepts financial support and food donations, which help the clinic feed its volunteers during their shift.

As for the benefits that volunteers and paid staff alike experience, the sacrifices are far outweighed by the rewards of seeing others benefit from the services provided, says Nunley.

“The ultimate outcome is seeing patients make the lifestyle changes and gain better health,” he continues.

“And when that happens, there’s often a ripple effect through their family,” Nachtigall says.

The clinic staff regularly hear patient comments regarding the kindnesses shown by the staff and volunteers, the quality care they have received, and simply gratitude for the clinic’s presence and willingness to help all of those in need.

“There are preconceived notions of the individuals who need these services,” says Nachtigall, who was among those in need of Arubah’s services in 2011 after losing her job as a single mother.

“We don’t realize all of the people who need the help.”

Updated 05-30-2017

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