We heart you

At the outskirts of the city, north and south along interstates 235 and 35, as well as east and west along both I-44 and I-240, stand large recently built or under-construction medical facilities.

And the reasons for them are depressing. According to the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan, the state leads the nation in deaths due to heart disease.

Two-thirds of Oklahoma residents are either overweight or obese, with Oklahoma ranked as the sixth-worst state in adult obesity.

The state’s prevalence for smoking in 2008 was 24.7%, ranking it 36th in the nation.

The plan gives Oklahoma a grade of either D or F in nine key health indicators, ranging from the consumption of fruits and vegetables to cancer deaths.

Integris Southwest Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Eddie Herrman says the array of metro medical facilities is simply a matter of supply and demand.

“It’s really driven by need,” Herrman says. “In Oklahoma, between being fat, not exercising and smoking, that pretty much contributes to everything you need to make a nice, healthy population of people who need cardiac catheters, heart transplants, bypasses and valve replacements.”

The Norman Regional Healthplex turned 2 in October. Daryle Voss, vice president and chief administrative officer for the Healthplex, was hired a year before the facility even was built, just to make sure everything was perfect.

Norman
Regional bills the facility as three specialties in one special spot.
Orthopedic and spine, women’s and children’s services, as well as the
crown jewel — cardiology and cardiovascular services — are offered.

“Most
people say it’s like being in a hotel,” Voss says of his 152-bed
facility. “I think when you look at cardiac care, it’s such a
specialized field, and you have to have a certain amount of love and
passion for it. When you focus all your energies on providing that level
of service in one location, you end up with better outcomes.”

For nearly a decade now, Oklahoma Heart Hospital has done nothing else but focus on heart outcomes.

Opened in August 2002 as a partnership between cardiologists from Oklahoma Cardiovascular Associates and Mercy Health Center, the facility became the first all-digital hospital in America totally dedicated to heart care.

Patient
volume prompted a $35 million expansion in 2006, and eventually a south
campus along I-240 and Sooner Road. In 2010, Oklahoma Heart Hospital
South Campus opened its doors.

John
Austin, chief operating officer at Oklahoma Heart Hospital South, has
watched for months now the progress on an $11 million, three-story,
70,000-squarefoot medical office building being built just outside his
office window.

“I
don’t think it’s surprising as much as it is welcomed to these areas,”
Austin says. “So much demand is being placed on local ERs within
hospitals. You see average wait times going up to three or four hours.
It’s draining the system financially and for the folks who need to go
there.”

Not to be
outdone, St. Anthony currently is constructing a pair of standalone
emergency rooms: one along I-40 near Douglas Boulevard, and the other on
I-44 at S.W. 134th Street.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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