Imagine for a moment that you are a parent of three children working two part-time jobs. You’re unable to get to the doctor’s office to get your children the vaccinations they need to enroll in school.
What can you do? Thanks to the Oklahoma Caring Foundation and the Oklahoma Caring Van program, barriers like limited clinic hours or lack of transportation are eliminated for thousands of children who are able to receive vital preventive health services, like immunizations, every day.
The signature program of Oklahoma Caring Foundation is the Oklahoma Caring Van program, launched in 1999 to serve families statewide. Oklahoma Caring Vans provide services to children who are uninsured, Medicaid eligible or American Indian.
Since 1999, more than 155,000 children have received nearly 283,000 immunizations aboard the Caring Vans.
The Oklahoma Caring Foundation operates eight Caring Vans.
- Two Caring Vans serve the Tulsa area.
- Two Caring Vans serve the Oklahoma City area.
- The Chickasaw Nation Caring Van serves south central Oklahoma.
- The Choctaw Nation Caring Van serves southeastern Oklahoma.
- The Southern Plains Tribal Health Board Caring Van serves Oklahoma’s tribal nations.
- The Southwest Caring Van, operated in partnership with the Oklahoma State Health Department, serves southwest Oklahoma.
In addition to immunizations, Oklahoma Caring Vans offer Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings. The data received from these screenings is shared with parents and schools or childcare facilities to help fight childhood obesity and diabetes.
Other services provided by Caring Vans include dental screenings, fluoride varnishes, blood pressure screenings and diabetes screenings.
We’re proud of all our employees and partners who operate the Oklahoma Caring Vans statewide, and we’d like to introduce you to the van coordinators who work in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Tina Hutchison joined the Oklahoma Caring Foundation in the Tulsa office as a caring van specialist in 2006. Known by many children in Northeast Oklahoma as “the Caring Van Lady,” Hutchison has helped nearly 36,000 children get lifesaving vaccines.
The children and caregivers who interact with Hutchison are immediately drawn to her warm and welcoming personality. “I love knowing that when I go out to a clinic each day I am making a true difference in a child’s life,” Hutchison said.
Jamie Kucinski came to the foundation’s Tulsa office in 2012. In his time as a caring van specialist, he has worked to expand the reach of the Caring Van Program by establishing new partnerships. Kucinski has introduced Caring Van services in 16 new school districts.
“My favorite part of my job is interacting with people in our community,” Kucinski said. “Vaccines provide children with a foundation for a better quality of life.”
Andrea Oguinn started with the foundation in the Oklahoma City office as a caring van specialist in July 2013. Oguinn brings a fun and exciting attitude to her van, which helps to ease a child’s fears when receiving shots.
“Some kids might be a little scared, but then I hand them a prize like a rubber ducky or ice cream coupons and they smile every time,” Oguinn said.
Oguinn manages the foundation’s partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS), the largest school district in the state. OKCPS students make up over 40 percent of the children immunized aboard Caring Vans in Oklahoma City.