Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Central Oklahoma Integrated Network System to Undergo Rebranding, Name Change

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Central Oklahoma Integrated Network System to Undergo Rebranding, Name Change

Article excerpt

Like many nonprofit organizations serving low-income people with little or no health insurance, COINS has suffered through the troubled economy.

COINS - Central Oklahoma Integrated Network System - also suffers from a name recognition problem. But that will soon change. Birdie Johnson, CEO of COINS, said the organization is undergoing a rebranding effort and will soon be known by a new name that better reflects its mission. The changes come during a time of struggle for the organization, in which money has dropped off, staff hours have been cut back and Johnson herself has taken less of a paycheck.

But Johnson and her staff are too driven to give up, especially when she hears back from people they were able to help, such as the man who was finally able to have hip replacement surgery after months of waiting.

"He called us and said, 'I'm going back to work next month,' and he was crying," Johnson said. "He said, 'You don't know what you did.' That goes a long way."

What COINS does is connect people - mostly the working poor who make $15,000 a year or less - with health care in an effort to keep them out of the emergency room. The organization works with eight local hospitals, about 180 community providers and 200-plus postgraduate medical students who are willing to see patients pro bono or for a greatly reduced fee. If a person needs primary care, COINS often connects them with a federally qualified community health center or a free clinic. In other cases, a patient needs a specialty referral. When COINS can make that connection, it saves the primary care provider time and leads to more information for a better diagnosis, Johnson said.

COINS is able to schedule about 60 percent of its patients for specialty referrals, Johnson said, but it has a difficult time finding enough endocrinologists, neurologists and orthopedics who will see patients.

The staff also works with patients to make sure they can get to their appointments and understand the importance of being there on time.

"Our staff spends as much time with the person explaining how precious this appointment is," she said. "They tell them if they can't be there, they need to give adequate notice so we can fill in with somebody else. …

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