A July 2023 report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform found 37 of Oklahoma’s 78 rural hospitals were at risk of closing. Twenty-four of those rural hospitals face imminent closure, meaning they could close within the next two to three years.
With 33.6 percent of Oklahoma’s population residing in non-metro areas, it’s more important than ever for primary and specialized medical care to reach children and teens in rural areas across the state. Bethany Children’s has developed an array of outstanding services and resources to benefit children throughout Oklahoma.
As the only inpatient pediatric rehabilitation hospital in the state, our Hospital employs the only Pediatric Physiatrists (Rehabilitation Specialists) in Oklahoma. In 2023, we expanded the medical team with the addition of two Child & Adolescent Neurologists and a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist. Bethany Children’s Outpatient Pediatric Clinic also added an additional Pediatrician to provide additional primary care services.
The families of children with special medical or rehabilitation needs often travel a long distance to Bethany to receive services not available to them locally. Recently, children and teens from Wright City, Erick, Laverne, Granite, Keota, Muskogee, Yale, Glencoe, Blackwell and Okeene, Oklahoma, were treated as inpatients and returned home with their families after discharge. Bethany Children’s provides temporary housing and additional resources for non-local families.
The Hospital utilizes telemedicine when appropriate to make it easier and more convenient for patients and caregivers from more remote locations to consult with providers. This eliminates the stress, time, and expense of travel. Telemedicine also allows providers to use digital and multimedia educational tools during sessions to help educate the parents, building confidence and empowering them to partner in their child’s healthcare.
The Bethany Community Pharmacy serves not only the local community but also rural areas by mailing vital prescriptions statewide. In 2021, 2,481 prescriptions were mailed across Oklahoma. That number has now grown to an average of 700 mailed prescriptions each month. That is over 8,000 mailed prescriptions a year. These medications, some of which are specially compounded in the pharmacy, head to rural towns like Watonga, Waynette, Talala, Skiatook, Spiro, Pryor, Porum, Lexington, Lavern, Keota, Jones, Hobart, Hartshorne, Guymon, Miami, Erick, Amber, and Blackwell, Oklahoma.
Our Community Outreach programs target communities in all parts of the state with education on health and safety for children and parents. Healthy Schools Oklahoma (HSOK) programs expanded into 65 schools across the state of Oklahoma in 2023, impacting nearly 30,000 students, family members and school staff. HSOK also reached over 2000 students in K–4 with water safety education events. To make health and safety education even more accessible, HSOK also created a mobile app in 2023 that is available to the public.
Safe Kids Oklahoma and ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma are two other successful community outreach programs at Bethany Children’s. In an effort to educate parents and reduce child passenger safety risks, the organization distributed 1,617 child restraints and inspected 1,857 car seats at 111 car seat checks and distribution events. About 148 bike and pedestrian events were held in 17 Oklahoma counties, reaching almost 18,000 students and adults. Presentations and booths on off-highway safety reached over 30,000 adults and students, providing important resources on ATV safety practices.
Bethany Children’s Health Center has intentionally expanded its programs and services in an effort to reach families in need across the state and beyond. The Hospital has also identified areas of expansion that will address future health care needs in both inpatient and outpatient services, continue to expand vital community wellness and outreach programs, and focus on the unique and specialized services the Hospital provides to meet the ongoing demand for varying levels of care. Learn more about this plan for expansion here.