Health Department Focuses On North Tulsa

Thursday, January 8th 2009, 10:00 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A one-stop-shop could be on the way to meet the health care needs in north Tulsa.  The  Tulsa Health Department made a proposal to the Tulsa County Commission on Thursday for a huge new center at 56th Street North and Cincinnati.

Gary Cox is the director of the Tulsa Health Department.  He says their number one priority is addressing the health needs of people in north Tulsa.

"Our record in Oklahoma for health is among the worst health outcomes. And, that's why we think we've got to start with those in the greatest need in our county," said Tulsa Health Department Director Gary Cox.

The health department has plans to build an all-encompassing Health and Wellness Center at 56th Street North and Cincinnati.

The people who live in the zip codes surrounding the proposed location rank among the very worst in the country as far as health."

"People die in Tulsa north 14 years sooner than people in the rest of the county, in the south. So it's clearly, clearly the area of greatest need in our community," said Tulsa Health Department Director Gary Cox.

But, first, the health department needs more than $8 million in funding.  That's why the department has asked the Tulsa County Commission to put the center on their list of needs for the economic stimulus package President Elect Barack Obama is expected to sign.

If it is funded, people like Vanessa Crisp would not have to go to local emergency rooms every time they needed to see a doctor.  Instead they could see one just up the street for little or no money at all.

"But, if you go here that would help a lot of people on this side of town, you know.  Some of the girls that don't have to go further to have babies, don't have to go further on this side they can go right down here," said Vanessa Crisp.

And, Cox says they'll learn more than just what ails them. They'll learn preventative health as well.

"We're focusing on keeping people well as opposed to treating them once they're sick," said Tulsa Health Department Director Gary Cox.

If county commissioners do not put the Health and Wellness Center on their list of needs, the health department says it will look for a public/private partnership.  The health department hopes to open the center in 18 months.