|By Jaclyn Cosgrove, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
That job was already difficult for Starkey, the CEO of the nonprofit
However, recent federal budget cuts have made Starkey's job even more difficult.
Because of federal sequestration, funding of the
The program repays student loans of medical professionals who work in medically underserved areas, including rural
For the past few years, the program has helped Starkey bring medical professionals to
Starkey said because of the budget cuts, the medical professionals at Great Salt Plains now won't have their loans repaid through the program.
"It's purely because of sequestration that we didn't get that loan repayment," Starkey said. "We actually are making their loan payments for them."
The health center cannot do without providers, so footing the bill is one of the few options Starkey has.
The medical professionals at Great Salt Plains, which opened in 2008, are some of the only full-time physicians in the area.
The hospital in
The first year of the clinic, Starkey recruited a doctor who lived in
That doctor got most of his loans paid back and is moving to a job in
"It's so difficult to get providers into
Great Salt Plains physicians provide primary, oral and behavioral health care, with uninsured patients paying on a sliding scale, based on their incomes. There are Great Salt Plains clinics in
About one-third of the center's patients are uninsured. The other two-thirds have either commercial insurance,
Many of the patients that medical practitioners see at Great Salt Plains would have qualified for
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