Improving the Health of Oklahomans One Child at a Time

Imagine for a moment that you are a parent of three children. You’re working two part-time jobs that leave you unable to travel to the doctor’s office to get your children the vaccinations required to enroll in school; what can you do? Thanks to the Oklahoma Caring Foundation and the Oklahoma Caring Van program, barriers such as limited clinic hours or lack of transportation are eliminated and thousands of children are able to receive vital preventive health services, like immunizations, every day.

The Oklahoma Caring Foundation (OCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization administered as an in-kind gift by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK). The signature program of OCF is the Oklahoma Caring Van program, launched in 1999 to serve families statewide. Oklahoma Caring Vans provide services to children who are uninsured, Medicaid eligible, or American Indian. Since 1999, more than 180,000 children have received nearly 320,000 immunizations aboard the Caring Vans.

The Oklahoma Caring Foundation operates nine Caring Vans:

  • Two Caring Vans serving the Tulsa area
  • Two Caring Vans serving the Oklahoma City area
  • The Chickasaw Nation Caring Van, serving south central Oklahoma
  • The Choctaw Nation Caring Van, serving southeastern Oklahoma
  • The Southern Plains Tribal Health Board Caring Van, serving Oklahoma’s tribal nations
  • The Southwest Caring Van, operated in partnership with the Oklahoma State Health Department, serving southwest Oklahoma
  • The Oklahoma Dental Foundation Caring Van

In addition to immunizations, Oklahoma Caring Vans offer Body Mass Index (BMI) Screenings. The data received from these screenings is shared with parents and schools or childcare facilities to help fight childhood obesity and diabetes. Other services aboard the Caring Vans include dental screenings, fluoride varnishes, blood pressure screenings and diabetes screenings.

We’re proud of all our employees and partners who operate the Oklahoma Caring Vans statewide, and we’d like to introduce you to the van coordinators working in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Tina Hutchison 
Tina Hutchison joined OCF in the Tulsa office as a Caring Van Specialist in 2006. Known by many children in Northeast Oklahoma as “the Caring Van Lady,” Tina has helped nearly 36,000 children receive lifesaving vaccines. The children and care providers who interact with Tina are immediately drawn to her warm and welcoming personality. “I love knowing that when I go out to a clinic each day I am making a true difference in a child’s life,” Tina said.

Maria Martinez
Maria Martinez has been a Caring Van specialist with OCF since October 2016.  Maria is bilingual and spearheads partnerships with community agencies to improve access to immunizations within the Spanish speaking community in Oklahoma City.  “Working with each community individually, I am able to eliminate any barrier to on-time immunizations whether I am in Oklahoma City or Konawa,” Maria said. Her dedication to eliminating barriers was demonstrated in her first month on the team, when over 1,400 children were immunized aboard her Caring Van.

Andrea Oguinn
Andrea Oguinn started with OCF in the Oklahoma City office as a Caring Van Specialist in July 2013. Andrea brings a fun and exciting attitude to her van, which helps to ease a child’s fears when receiving shots. “Some kids might be a little scared, but then I hand them a prize like a rubber ducky or ice cream coupons and they smile every time,” Andrea said. She manages OCF’s partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS), the largest school district in the state, which accounts for over 40% of the children immunized aboard Caring Vans in Oklahoma City.

Fernando Guillen
Fernando Guillen is the newest Caring Van specialist, having joined the Tulsa team in December 2017. Fernando is the first bilingual specialist aboard a Tulsa Caring Van, and he is already expanding the services offered to Spanish-speaking families and the agencies that serve them. Fernando is tech savvy, which has been instrumental in the launch of the new Caring Van Program online database. “As a new member of the Tulsa community, I am excited to play a role in improving the health of my neighbors and offer a welcoming service to families who come to the Caring Van,” Fernando said.

Click here to learn where the Oklahoma Caring Vans will be next!

 

 

 

Last updated 5/7/2018

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