News Release

August 24, 2011

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Carter Kimble - (405) 522-7510

SoonerCare Saves Lives

OKLAHOMA CITY – Barbara Johnson knows life is full of uncertainties, but she’s certain about one thing: a determined Oklahoma Health Care Authority employee who helped her re-enroll her daughter in SoonerCare a few weeks ago saved the seven-year-old child’s life.

“Latrita’s call saved my little girl. It saved her life,” said Johnson, referring to Latrita McFadden, an OHCA employee who contacts people whose SoonerCare coverage has lapsed.

McFadden said the call she made was one “of hundreds” she makes every week as part of OHCA’s effort to make sure parents keep their children enrolled in the SoonerCare program, (Oklahoma Medicaid). She had made several attempts to reach Barbara Johnson and her husband, Tim, who live in Wilburton, when Johnson returned her call.

After confirming Piper was qualified for the program, McFadden encouraged Johnson to make a well-child appointment for her daughter with her medical home doctor. “She said ‘call right now, today,” Johnson remembered. So, Johnson made an appointment for July 5 at a Latimer County clinic.

Over the July 4 weekend, Piper didn’t feel well. Monday night she complained of being thirsty and was nauseous and vomiting.

When Piper saw her medical home doctor on Tuesday, he immediately told the Johnsons she had “textbook symptoms” of diabetes. Piper’s blood sugar reading was more than 1,000 – a random blood sugar of 200 or more with Piper's symptoms would be a presumption of diabetes.

The doctor made immediate arrangements to life flight Piper to a Tulsa hospital for treatment in the intensive care unit. He also wanted the family to receive further training in how to take care of Piper at home. Piper’s veins had collapsed and before the flight paramedics injected insulin into her body through her bone marrow.

Piper was placed in ICU at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She was there until the next week when doctors released her to go home. Thanks to a perfectly timed phone call and a well-child check-up, she was well enough to go on an outing with her parents recently. When Piper saw her first McDonald’s restaurant playground, she was excited she got to see her “first McDonald’s amusement park.”

Piper is an inquisitive child with lots of energy. Symptoms and treatments that might have slowed down most children showed few outward signs with Piper.

The Johnsons know they have a difficult task in front of them, but with the help of SoonerCare and employees like McFadden, they are looking forward to spending more time with their daughter.

“We are her pancreas now,” Barbara Johnson said. “We are a team – Tim, Piper and I – and we make sure we do the math, give her the shots and see that she is eating what she needs.”

More than 472,000 Oklahoma children are currently enrolled in SoonerCare. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, another 60,000 children qualify for SoonerCare but are not enrolled. SoonerCare provides children who qualify with medical and dental coverage.

Oklahomans can apply for SoonerCare online at To find out more information about SoonerCare, SoonerEnroll or any of OHCA’s health care programs call the SoonerCare Helpline at 1-800-987-7767 or visit


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Piper hugs Latrita McFadden, whose call the Johnsons credit with “saving Piper’s life.”