The network will serve as a single referral source, connecting patients from clinics to specialty care, Hupfeld said.
“Wherever a patient lands in one of our clinics, with one phone call, we can get them moved on to a higher level of care,” Hupfeld said.
The network will also establish a case management system where nurses help patients move through the health care system. Nurses employed through the network will check in with patients, asking about whether they're taking their medication and following their doctor's instructions. Third, the network will help convert clinics into the primary source of care for patients, rather than the hospital emergency room.
The network will consist of 12 to 14 staff members, including nurses, bilingual staff members and social workers.
The projected startup and first-year operating costs for the network are about $950,000. So far, the alliance has about 25 percent of funding secured, Cross said. The network is expected to cost about $900,000 per year to run.
Commission leaders set out with a goal of 55 percent of the money coming from private foundations and trusts with health interests; 20 percent from hospital and health systems and their foundations; 15 percent from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department; and 10 percent from corporations, businesses and residents.
The Health Alliance for the Uninsured was selected in November to administer the Oklahoma County Community Health Network. Since that time, alliance staff members have worked to secure funding. Cross said there's always the concern in the nonprofit world that a project won't get funded.
“I've been in the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years, so I've learned to live with that insecurity and not let it prevent the organization from achieving its mission,” Cross said. “If one door closes, you go in another direction.”