story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Before becoming a new nurse 20 years ago, Tracee Barton felt inspired to work in labor and delivery.
“I always say that you can have five kids, but you only give birth to that child once,” said Barton, RN, vice president of nursing at Oklahoma City Indian Clinic.
Each birth becomes something a mother will remember. And a support system for mothers would hit home with Barton. Having married a Native American, Barton’s children came to the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic 22 years ago when they were toddlers during a time that she was without health insurance. She thought it would be just another clinic.
“Actually, it made a difference in my son’s life,” she said. “I never looked at it as a free clinic anymore. It was there to give Native Americans the health care that they deserved.”
Barton earned three nursing degrees beginning with an Associate degree in Nursing from Redlands Community College in El Reno. She received both her Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing degrees at Southwestern State University, located in Weatherford.
Afterwards, she knew the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was a place she would work at one day. Families experience rough days when health insurance is too expensive. The clinic never lets that effect the type of care a patient receives, Barton said. The clinic’s vision and mission make a difference. (story continues below)
She was hired as the vice president of nursing in May of 2022 for her leadership experience. Her background includes being a charge nurse in labor and delivery. Additionally, Barton has served as an administrative director of women’s health services. She was in a travel nursing leadership role in Florida when she learned there was an opening at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic.
“One of the things I really work on is best practice. We’re giving patients the same best practice they would get at one of the larger organizations down the road,” she said. “We do a lot of skill checks and then manage every clinic.”
Barton oversees five primary care clinics and four specialty clinics. Her team is constantly looking at new service lines to bring to patient care. They are expanding services for an HIV/syphilis clinic.
The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic is constantly making improvements reflecting community needs. The clinic has purchased a building in Oklahoma City off Southwest 44th and Western. It is in the development process to serve as a clinic for women and children.
“In three to five years we will have a birthing hospital there as well. Our patients won’t have to go to Ada or where their insurance covers. They can come to us,” Barton said.
Current Native American services include primary care, and women’s health. They have two physicians who deliver infants at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. Pediatrics is one of the booming services. Other services include programs for diabetes, podiatry, cardiology, a food pantry, and public health.
Native Americans can go to the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic for behavioral health services, health promotion, disease prevention, optometry, dentists, urgent care, respiratory care, physical therapy, a wellness center, diabetes education classrooms and the expanding Harmon-y Pediatric clinic.
Women can come to the clinic for mammograms without having to worry if they have health insurance.
Patients had been unable to afford $4,000 hearing aids. That changed last year when the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic did a Red Feather service line to provide hearing aids.
“A gentleman said, ‘I’m able to hear you on the phone because of the service you gave us.’” Barton said.
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic nurses are very compassionate about the patients they serve as they build connections, Barton added. They get to know multi-generations of family and become an important part of those family tapestries of life. The clinic serves more than 22,000 registered patients.
“Our nurses are part of the community we serve. So, it’s personal for them,” she continued. “Even though I’m not Native American, my children are. So that’s part of the connection I have for me to be here and do what I do every day.”
Providing compassion to patients experiencing hard times in life impacts Barton’s life.
“Just being there and maybe holding a hand or getting a phone number for someone who couldn’t make contact — you can see in an instant the difference it makes on the patient. That’s why I do what I do.”
For more information on how to join the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, click HERE.