ATOKA, OK -- A proposal for a new federally qualified health center to serve residents in the Atoka County area is sparking some controversy. Thursday night, officials and citizens voiced their opinions at a public hearing.
Dozens of residents gathered at the Atoka Community Center Thursday night -- some for and against the Family Health Center of Southern Oklahoma -- a proposed clinic that would provide care to medically under-served populations.
"The purpose of this meeting is to let citizens air their view whether they do or don't want this type of clinic in Atoka," said city council member, James Thornley.
Thornley says the clinic is based out of Tishomingo and Coalgate, and its management is interested in opening a branch in Atoka.
The clinic uses a sliding scale fee, which would benefit some residents, like Barbara Jackson, who has been diagnosed with incurable cancer.
"This would give the opportunity for local people, and not just elderly, but people with youngsters," Jackson said. "So the small community of Atoka needs to take advantange of every resource we have."
Atoka Medical Center Chairman, David Burrage, says the hospital against an out of town group bringing this clinic to Atoka. He says hospital staff have voiced their concerns against it's opening, but would support a similar clinic under a different circumstance.
"I think it can be a good thing, if you can work in cooperation with your local hospital and local providers," Burrage said.
Burrage would like any new clinic to be locally controlled rather than run by an out of town board, but residents like Jackson say regardless of ownership, an affordable nearby clinic will help out everyone.
"Anyone can use the clinic and they will be charged accordingly," Jackson said. "It's not gonna raise the taxes in Atoka County."