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OU Health in the Community

Whether you make regular visits to an OU Health doctor’s office, participate in wellness screenings or health educational programs, or you need specialized care at one of our hospitals or centers, you can take advantage of a wide range of healthcare activities and services from OU Health throughout communities in Oklahoma and, often, at a location near you.

Leading Healthcare & Improving Life for All Oklahomans

Wherever you live in Oklahoma, you’ll find OU Health dedicated to improving your life and the lives of your loved ones by reaching underserved communities through direct patient care and services, education, and research. Our commitment to good stewardship within our community means you can rely on our efforts to identify, mitigate and address our community’s health needs inside and outside our facilities, as well as among our partners and in situations beyond the traditional medical model.

Community Impact & Mission

With 804 hospital beds, OU Health acts as a safety net hospital for Oklahoma County and the state of Oklahoma. In 2019 alone, OU Health provided $115 million in charity care for uninsured patients and unreimbursed services. OU Health also serves a disproportionate number of underserved communities, including older adults and children from low-income families. Often relying on government payors, more than 60% of our patients have highly complex health needs. The variety of our patients and our services aligns with the principles of our mission: patient care, education and research to improve the lives of all people.

Beyond the Doctor’s Office

Healthy living happens every day – through actions you can take to prevent certain health conditions, regular checkups that keep you on track and easy access to specialty care when you need it. OU Health stands by your side at every step along your health journey with the many ways we make sound investments in our community through services and programs that reach far beyond the doors of our facilities.

Innovative Research for Improving Community Health

In partnership with University of Oklahoma Centers of Excellence, OU Health supports innovative research intended to improve quality of life in the state. Whether working with the OU Tulsa campus on the Food Is Medicine program and study, supporting the development of smoking cessation technologies or actively participating in the Oklahoma Physicians Research/Resource Network (OKPRN), OU Health invests in innovation happening throughout Oklahoma.

Education for Health Professionals

As Oklahoma’s only comprehensive academic medical center and campus, OU Health serves a critical role in developing the next generation of medical professionals for the state and region. The leading healthcare experts in many medical fields work at OU Health, serving our community and training the strongest possible healthcare workforce for Oklahoma’s future.

Activities to Improve Community Health

While medical professionals across OU Health primarily focus on providing the highest quality healthcare, OU Health staff members at all levels give their time to help make Oklahoma a better, healthier place to live. You’ll find OU Health staff as volunteers in the community, investing in community-based organizations and strategically connecting with partners throughout the community. All activities seek to improve both quality of life and health outcomes for communities we serve.

Community Health Improvement Activities

Among the many activities that ensure OU Health invests well in our communities, you’ll find:

  • Live to Give Program, an opportunity for OU Health staff at all levels to give time to help make Oklahoma a better place; gets our volunteers actively involved with numerous charitable causes that strive to make a positive difference throughout the community; since its creation in 2008, more than 3,000 OU Health volunteers have supported more than 70 organizations; just in 2019, more than 500 volunteers participated in activities coordinated by Live to Give that accomplished work to enhance and strengthen communities
  • Sooner Success, a statewide program to help make healthcare services more widely known and accessible to families of children with special healthcare needs
  • Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (OHAI) created a statewide program partnering with hospital systems, long-term care facilities and insurance providers to help prevent falls among older adults in Oklahoma
  • OU Health Summer Feeding Program, operational since 2018, ensures Oklahoma children continue to receive adequate nutrition during summer break; thousands of meals provided at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program; children up to age 18, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, all receive the same meals and services
  • Food as Medicine pilot program and research study pairs LocalFarmOK with OU-Tulsa faculty, physicians, alumni and students to provide weekly home delivery of fruits and vegetables for nine months at no cost to participants interested in helping understand the effect of fresh produce on chronic disease
  • OU-Tulsa’s Culinary Medicine program visits local communities to answer parents’ nutrition questions and provide tips on getting children involved in the kitchen, as well as hosting interactive fruit and vegetable “teach and taste” stations

Activities Within Our Hospitals

Within our own facilities, OU Health invests in efforts that meet health needs outside the traditional medical model, including:

  • OU Health mobile food teaching cart helps dialysis patients with extremely strict diets learn to cook appealing and easy-to-prepare food that meets their dietary needs; Child Life specialists support the program and collaborate on teaching with OU Health food service
  • Certified Child Life specialists work as part of the healthcare team, anticipate family needs, and prepare and provide play, educational and developmentally appropriate activities that emotionally support children and their families within the care plan; toys, gaming, special events, activities help distract from the hospital environment and necessary medical treatments; kids connect with peers in familiar, fun ways
  • Bear in My Chair, a school re-entry and support program, helps hospitalized children or those out of school for an extended period due to injury or illness
  • The Baby Care Class instills confidence in parents caring for tiny NICU babies before returning home; hands-on class provides in-depth information for parents to use after discharge, including education on healthy homes, safe sleep, smoking cessation and new-parent basics such as diapering, soothing and support
  • Music Therapy, established in 2016 as an extension of the care plan; individualized music therapy for pediatric patients ranges from drumming, tapping and strumming to songwriting and heartbeat recordings; provides an outlet for self-expression and coping
  • Paws for Purpose, started in 2017 as an OU Health institutional initiative of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital; extended from a strong volunteer pet therapy dog program, a patient favorite for more than 20 years; provides many of the benefits associated with regular exercise, including reduced stress and anxiety, decreased blood pressure, increased endorphins

Activities Within Our Partnerships

OU Health partners with Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma’s only National Cancer Center (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center to support its primary ongoing community-based cancer prevention efforts that focus on strong community engagement, building capacity with and for community partners, and connecting Oklahomans to advanced research and treatment options. During 2019, Stephenson Cancer Center hosted 19 speakers and educational events with over 4,000 attendees, as well as 12 cancer screening events with more than 550 people screened for various types of cancer.

Strategic Efforts in Community Health

For information about the strategic vision and goals of OU Health community health efforts, review the Community Health Annual Report [pdf].

Community Health Needs Assessment

By understanding what’s happening in our communities and completing a thorough examination of health needs, we can more strategically target efforts and programs to create stronger impacts.

Review the Community Health Needs Assessment Report [pdf] to find out more.

Commitment to Good Stewardship

Through the 340B Good Stewardship Program [pdf] , OU Health better serves the community by extending its resources to the benefit of communities across the region.

Explore OU Health

Find out more about exceptional healthcare at OU Health, Oklahoma’s only comprehensive academic health system. Take advantage of extensively trained and highly skilled doctors, surgeons, advance practice providers and supportive services at OU Health hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence.

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