Expanding access to affordable healthcare: Good Shepherd Community Clinic merges with Family Health Center

Sierra Rains
The Good Shepherd Community Clinic's location on 12th Avenue Northwest in Ardmore.

The Good Shepherd Community Clinic merged with the Family Health Center this week in an effort to expand access to affordable health care services for patients in south-central Oklahoma.

The project is a “win-win” for both organizations as the expansion will allow for increased services to patients at both locations, and will allow for the founders of Good Shepherd to once again work at the clinic.

In 1996, two local physicians, Dr. Michael Carnahan and Dr. Thomas McCulloh, worked with others to create a small volunteer clinic operated out of a rental house for those needing access to more affordable health care options. Over the years, the clinic has grown into a Federally Qualified Community Health Center known as Good Shepherd.

The clinic’s status as a Community Health Center means that Good Shepherd can provide health care services to the whole community regardless of a patient’s income or insurance status.

Good Shepherd CEO Teresa Myers said the clinic has recently been nearing max capacity at its current location on 12th Avenue Northwest in Ardmore, serving over 3,500 patients. In the spring of 2020, Myers approached the founders of Good Shepherd, who currently practice at the Family Health Center, to consider merging into one organization.

“I approached the doctors early in the year to see if expanding services to help their patients access affordable care would be an option,” Myers said. “They liked the idea and it’s pretty cool that they started Good Shepherd and also get to end their careers at Good Shepherd.”

Myers said Carnahan and McCulloh expressed that they were both at points in their careers where they wanted to focus more on patient care and less on the business of health care.

Patients in south-central Oklahoma will now have access to both facilities to help meet their health care needs. Family Health Center patients will have access to Good Shepherd’s pharmacy and dental and behavioral health care services, as well as a payment discount for qualifying patients and expanded appointments during lunch and until 6 p.m. at both locations.

The Good Shepherd Community Clinic will also still maintain its status as a nonprofit organization and remains dependent on grant funding to help provide care to those with difficulty affording health care services.

“We’ll have two sites and we’ll be able to offer more services to more people. That was the reason we did it, was to expand services to the community,” Myers said. “We continue to see new patients everyday so this is an opportunity for us to expand our footprint, to be able to see more patients that were coming in that we were running out of space for.”

Current patients at the Family Health Center should not notice much of a change as the transition begins. Myers said all of the staff and medical providers, including Dr. Thomas McCulloh, Dr. Michael Carnahan, Gina Hernandez, PA-C, Sharon Hall, APRN-CNP and Tamra Morrow, PA-C, will continue to provide the same health care services patients have come to expect from them.

Myers said she and the staff at Good Shepherd are excited to work with the founders of the clinic, bringing it “full circle,” and helping expand access to affordable health care as a part of the new acquisition of the Family Health Center, located on 1104 Walnut Dr. NW in Ardmore.

“It’s just super cool to get to work side-by-side with the physicians that started Good Shepherd because their heart for the patients that we serve hasn’t ever changed,” Myers said. “So getting to be part of that team together with them is just an incredible opportunity for me personally and for the Good Shepherd staff to get to work with them.”

For more information about the project, contact Teresa Myers at (580) 223-3411 or visit the clinic on Facebook or the web at httpswww.buildinghealthypeople.org.