Recipients of the annual Rural Fire Defense 80/20 Reimbursement Grants have been announced by Oklahoma Forestry Services. The grants provide funding for equipment purchases and fire station construction and are available through an application process to rural fire departments which serve populations of less than 10,000.
“There is a great need for equipment and station construction by our rural fire departments,” said George Geissler, director, Oklahoma Forestry Services. “These departments are the first line of defense for their communities and we would like to be able to offer assistance to more departments.”
A total of $125,000 was available for the program this year and departments were eligible to receive up to $30,000 for fire department construction and up to $20,000 for fire equipment purchases. The grants provide reimbursement of up to 80% of the total amount of projects, with fire departments receiving reimbursement after the purchase or constructions costs have been paid. Sixteen departments were selected to receive the grants this year.
The grants are authorized by Governor Mary Fallin, funded by the Oklahoma Legislature and administered by the Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry. Oklahoma’s Rural Fire Coordinators grade the applications and select the recipients.
Rural fire departments which have been awarded grants this year include: Boulanger Rural Fire Department; Butler Volunteer Fire Department; Caddo Fire Department; Blackwell Fire Department; Harrah Fire Department; Cordell Volunteer Firefighters Association; Darwin Volunteer Fire Department; Green Country Volunteer Fire Department; Walters Fire Department; Jacktown Fire Department; Monroe Volunteer Fire Association; Ochelata Volunteer Fire Department; Oglesby Civil Defense Volunteer Fire; Sam’s Point Volunteer Fire Department; Meeker Fire Department; Rosston Volunteer Fire Department and Wilson Community Volunteer Fire Association.
For more information about the grants and recipients visit the Oklahoma Forestry Services website at or call 405-288-2385.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced the first two deaths caused by the flu in the state. Both deaths occurred in patients who were over the age of 65. There have been 105 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported statewide.
The number of flu cases is relatively high for this time of year, and public health officials are concerned there will be a high risk of spreading the flu during the holiday season. The highest number of flu-related hospitalizations has occurred among those who are older than 50 years of age, as well as children younger than 5, which are both groups at greater risk of experiencing severe illness and complications due to flu.
The OSDH reminds the public that there are still several months left in the flu season. The single best way to protect against flu and its consequences is to get the flu vaccine. Many local county health departments, pharmacies and health care providers have vaccine and health officials urge everyone 6 months of age and older to get the vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from influenza, especially babies too young to receive a vaccination. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for a person’s immune system to respond and provide defenses against influenza viruses.
Those who already have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. One may have the flu if they have some or all of these symptoms: Fever, Cough, Sore throat, Runny or stuffy nose, Body aches, Headache, Chill, Fatigue
It is important for those experiencing flu-like symptoms to consult with a health care provider as soon as possible. Antiviral drugs may be prescribed to treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment when started within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. Influenza antiviral drugs may also be indicated as a prevention measure to protect those who have just been exposed to someone diagnosed with influenza and are especially vulnerable.
Certain people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications. Young children, elderly persons, pregnant women and people with some long-term medical conditions are reminded to contact their health care provider as soon as they develop flu symptoms.
OSDH recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone. Avoid going to work, school, social events and public gatherings as well as traveling and shopping. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen before returning to a regular routine. To prevent the spread of the flu, the public is reminded to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash hands often.
For more information about influenza and activity updates, visit the Ok Flu View at

INTEGRIS Health and its employees have once again donated turkeys from their annual Turkey Toss to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. This year, 865 turkeys were donated and distributed to fellow Oklahomans who have inconsistent access to nutritious food.
“We consider ourselves blessed to work for an organization that values our employees and is willing to reward them in this special way,” said Bruce Lawrence, president and CEO of INTEGRIS Health. “Donations made to the Regional Food Bank allows INTEGRIS to live our mission by supporting our community through giving to those in need this holiday season.”
INTEGRIS Health traditionally hands out turkeys to their employees in November as a way of ‘giving thanks’ for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. Many employees ‘pay it forward’ by donating their turkey to the Regional Food Bank.
“Having a meal to share is often out of reach for many of our Oklahoma neighbors,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of the Regional Food Bank. “There are too many of our neighbors – people you may even know – who are quietly living with hunger. Thanks to INTEGRIS Health and all of their wonderful employees, hundreds of families will now enjoy a nutritious holiday meal together.”
This year alone, INTEGRIS, and its employees, donated 25,850 pounds of food through its Turkey Toss and Gov. Mary Fallin’s Feeding Oklahoma Drive. In total, 7,626 turkeys have been donated to the Regional Food Bank since INTEGRIS Health began the partnership in 2010. The majority of Oklahomans served by the Regional Food Bank are chronically hungry children, seniors living on limited incomes and hardworking families struggling to make ends meet.
It’s not too late to make a difference this holiday season. Thanks to a generous matching challenge from, the Cresap Family Foundation and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, every gift we receive through Jan. 15 will be matched, dollar for dollar – up to $600,000 – for a total impact of $1.2 million. To make a donation call 405-600-3136 or visit

By Ron Hendricks

The first hearing loop installed in the metro is located in the newly renovated Nichols Hills City Council chambers where the users of hearing devices will be able to hear all that goes on in meetings and conferences. A ribbon cutting ceremony with many ‘dignitaries’ and guests celebrated the completion of the installation.
The second LOOP installation in Oklahoma City has also just been completed in the OKC Civic Center Music Hall. The hearing loop system is hard wired into the auditorium and will transmit sound directly into a hearing aid or Cochlear implant with a “T” coil. When you visit the Civic Center for a musical show or concert this fall, you may be surprised by what you hear!
Central Oklahoma Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America is proud to be a part of the “Oklahoma City Hearing Loop Initiative.” Our member, Ana Covey and her company, Assist2Hear are responsible for these installations. COCHLAA, with Ana and Assist2Hear and are looking forward to many more installed locations to help those suffering with hearing loss. After all, it is an ADA requirement, that facilities offering public access where sound is integral to the space, must offer hearing assistance to those who need it and the hearing loop is by far, the user-preferred system.
Please visit with your audiologist or hearing aid specialist to make sure your hearing aid or Cochlear device is hearing loop ready by activating the telecoil (T-coil) option available in most aids.
If you know of businesses that have this kind of need, please feel free to contact COCHLAA at the Hearing Helpers Room, 405-717-9820 or visit our website, . You can also contact Ana at or (405)640-5152 for any questions about hearing loops.

Join the Hearing Loss Association and help us get our city “get in the loop.” Hearing Loss Association of America Central Oklahoma Chapter holds meetings twice a month. Second Mondays, 6:30-8PM and the third Thursdays, 1:30-3PM at Lakeside Methodist Church, 2925 NW 66th St. The meetings are open to the public, no admission charge.

Date/ Day/ Location/ Time/ Registration #/ Instructor

Dec 7/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Varacchi
Integris 3rd Age Life Center – 5100 N. Brookline, Suite 100
Dec 8/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards
S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
Dec 16/ Saturday/ Midwest City/ 9 am – 2 pm/ 473-8239/ Williams
First Christian Church – 11950 E. Reno Ave.
Jan 4/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Varacchi
Integris 3rd Age Life Center – 5100 N. Brookline, Suite 100
Jan 8/ Monday/ Midwest City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 473-9239/ Williams
First Christian Church – 11950 E. Reno Ave.
Jan 9/ Tuesday/ Yukon/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 350-7680/ Kruck
Dale Robertson Center – 1200 Lakeshore Dr.
Jan 9/ Tuesday/ Midwest City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 691-4091/ Palinsky
Rose State Conventional Learning Center – 6191 Tinker Diagonal
Jan 10/ Wednesday/ Mustang/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 376-3411/ Kruck
Mustang Senior Center – 1201 N. Mustang Rd.
Jan 12/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards
S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
Jan 23/ Tuesday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 773-6910/ Kruck
Healthy Living – 11501 N. Rockwell
The prices for the classes are: $15 for AARP members and $20 for Non-AARP. Call John Palinsky, zone coordinator for the Oklahoma City area at 405-691-4091 or send mail to:

Pam Spanbauer, RN, serves on the Physician Manpower & Training Commission.

by Mike Lee Staff Writer

Pam Spanbauer, RN, BSN, MEd, may be retired from her nursing practice but her impact on healthcare in Oklahoma will be felt for generations to come.
As the governor’s appointee to the Physician Manpower & Training Commission, Spanbauer is the only nurse on the board that helps ensure healthcare for thousands of rural Oklahomans.
Now the board chair, Spanbauer helps make sure that small communities in Oklahoma get the competent and professional physicians they so desperately need.
Spanbauer also currently serves as the vice president of the Oklahoma Nurses Association.
The commission is a task-force established in the 1970s.
“They have funding to help fund physicians in training to go out into the rural areas in Oklahoma,” Spanbauer said. “In Oklahoma we have so much rural area. In these farming communities the last thing they can do is take a day and drive to the city to get healthcare and drive back.
“It’s really important especially with the fact we don’t have many hospitals in the rural area.”
Spanbauer was raised in a small town in North Carolina. She had a single doctor growing up who took care of her entire family.
“If we had to have gone to the city we probably wouldn’t have gotten healthcare,” said Spanbauer, whose family lived 50 miles from the nearest hospital. “I’ve always had that small-town respect.”
She says the reality is that most doctors are going into specialty practices. Those who head to family medicine will stick closer to more populated areas.
The commission will cover a significant portion of a doctor’s tuition for a commitment to be the physician in a rural area.
“Many of the physicians actually wind up staying in that area after their commitment is done,” Spanbauer said. “If it weren’t for that a lot of doctors wouldn’t even know there are these opportunities and how great healthcare can be in a small community.”
Spanbauer and the commission review each applicant and decide the best place to match each doctor. Communities routinely send in requests for physicians to cover their population.
The mission of the Physician Manpower Training Commission is to enhance medical care in rural and underserved areas of the state by administering residency, internship and scholarship incentive programs that encourage medical and nursing personnel to practice in rural and underserved areas. Further, PMTC is to upgrade the availability of health care services by increasing the number of practicing physicians, nurses and physician assistants in rural and underserved areas of Oklahoma.
Subsequently the Oklahoma Legislature has added the responsibility of a Physician Placement Program, Nursing Student Assistance Program, the FP Resident Rural Program, the Physician Community Match Program and the Physician Assistant Scholarship Program. Spanbauer says the commission is guided in all the programs by a sense of stewardship which requires that maximum effort, both individual and organizational, be utilized to increase the number of practicing physicians, nurses and physician assistants in Oklahoma and, particularly, in rural and underserved areas of the state.
“I’ve always had a strong desire to give back in some way which is why I love being retired,” Spanbauer said. “I loved what I did when I was working but now it’s like I can give back. When I was working I didn’t have as much time.”
During her career, Spanbauer served as an EMT and drove an ambulance for Children’s Hospital. She also helped start the MediFlight program and later spent nearly her entire nursing career at Mercy.
“I had an opportunity at that time to see how spread out everything in Oklahoma is,” she said. “We would drive to pick up a baby and see how some of those hospitals barely had enough to get by. They didn’t have all the equipment we had in the city to take care of these premature babies.
“I’ve always been very passionate about wanting everybody to be able to have access to care. It’s a fact that people don’t.”
Spanbauer says the commission is charged with five high-priority goals:
1. Work to improve the balance of physician manpower distribution in the State of Oklahoma, both by type of practice and by geographic location;
2. Aid accredited physician training facilities in the establishment of additional primary medical care and family practice internship and residency training programs by sharing in the cost of these programs;
3. Assist Oklahoma communities in selecting and financing qualified medical and osteopathic interns/residents to participate in the Physician Community Match Program;
4. Assist Oklahoma communities, in any manner possible, in contacting medical and osteopathic students, interns and residents, or other physicians (inside and outside Oklahoma) who might wish to practice in Oklahoma;
5. Work with Oklahoma communities and the leadership of Oklahoma’s nurse training institutions to provide nurses for underserved areas of the state.
“It gets back to what medicine is all about and that’s the relationship the doctor has with the patient and the community,” Spanbauer said.
And that’s how Spanbauer makes a difference for future generations to come.

The expectation of this weekend’s cold front is reviving the need for a warm winter coat. The Salvation Army has hundreds of winter coats available to keep Oklahoma County residents warm. Oklahoma County residents are invited to pick up a coat beginning today, February 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Thanks to the generous donations received from the Brad Edwards’ KFOR Warmth 4 Winter Program, our community, and our partners – South Oklahoma City Rotary and Legacy Cleaners – The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command has an abundance of coats, ready for distribution to help keep Oklahoma County residents in need warm.
“For anyone who needs a winter coat we have one for every size, shape and style. From youth to seniors, we have a coat for everyone that will be sure to keep you warm,” said Jessica Smith, Director of Social Services.
The Salvation Army’s Social Services is located at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City, OK 73107 on the east side of the Chesapeake Energy Center of Hope. Individuals can pick up coats beginning today at 2 p.m. Coats will also be available next week:
Monday–Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Friday: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Closed Saturday and Sunday)
Basic eligibility rules for families and/or individuals to qualify for and receive coats from this program require:
1. Picture ID – such as a Driver’s License, H.NET ID card, State Issued ID, Governmental or Military ID, or Passport or ID from Country of Origin for ALL adult household members
2. Social Security Card
3. Proof of Residency such as a current utility bill, lease agreement or monthly mortgage statement
For individuals who are homeless, providing their H.NET ID card is sufficient.
For any questions regarding the coat program, please contact our social services office at 405-246-1060.