Coordinating Health Care for Oklahoma City’s Homeless

The Open Arms Clinic at the City Rescue Mission was recently featured on KFOR-TV.

For residents of City Rescue Mission, the struggles of homelessness can present serious barriers to maintaining their health. When faced with the challenges of finding affordable housing and a sustainable income, health care is often just one more obstacle to overcome. Thanks to a grant from our Access to Health Care iFund program, a new triage clinic is making health care more attainable for Oklahoma City’s homeless population.

The clinic is a collaboration between City Rescue Mission and Open Arms Clinic, a charitable health care provider that has been serving Oklahoma City since 1993. Located onsite at City Rescue Mission, the clinic provides free medical services to mission residents through a triage nurse who assesses the level of care needed and coordinates follow-up services.

“When you have a significant homeless population without access to basic health care, they are often left with no choice but to use expensive emergency services that can have a tremendous impact on the community,” said Rosemary Hayes, Open Arms development and volunteer coordinator.

The triage clinic is helping to eliminate the use of emergency medical services for non-emergency needs. Within the first four months, the clinic served 329 patients, with only 30 requiring emergency care. Before the clinic opened, City Rescue Mission says EMS was called on a daily basis. Now, the rate of EMS calls has dropped by 24 percent.

“Many patients don’t have access to over-the-counter medications,” said the clinic’s triage nurse. “With the opening of the clinic, they can now be treated for minor ailments such as a migraine or a rash without ever leaving the facility.”

An initiative of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation Trustees, the iFund program utilizes gifts from donors to support services for children and elderly, as well as provide access to health care. Since 2011, the iFund program has awarded more than $2.5 million to charitable organizations serving central Oklahoma. Charitable organizations providing health care services and programs for the elderly in central Oklahoma can apply for the next round of iFund grants by April 14. Donors interested in making a charitable gift to support iFund grants can visit and click on Donate Now.