The soothing scent of incense wafting from a chiminea welcomes all to the Central Oklahoma Early Detection Clinic in Edmond, which seems more like someone’s home than a doctor’s office.
Internist and lipidologist Susan Dimick planned it that way.
A clay tile entryway spills into a warm and roomy waiting room with an explosion of Southwest art. A tribal weave-patterned rug carpets the floor; paintings of Native Americans, and a buffalo spear, adorn the walls; a Southwest throw blankets a primitive wood table; and candles flicker in a mock fireplace, surrounded by baskets, Pueblo pottery, Talavera plates and other artifacts.
“I wanted it to be inviting, instantly comforting and interesting for people; clean, but not clinical,” said Dimick, who moved into the leased 3,900-square-foot space at 1227 E Ninth St. late last year.
The whole concept is to feel relaxed, she said.
“Most often, when someone comes to see the doctor, it’s not their favorite thing,” she said. “They’re dreading being stuck with a needle, frightened about something else, or have concerns about serious cardiovascular issues. We’re doing our best to make it less noxious for them,” she said.
Dimick carried her Southwest decor throughout her office, from examination rooms newly-painted in turquoise and terracotta colors to the lab where patients’ blood samples are drawn.
Most of her office furniture and accessories came from Mexico by way of the Santa Fe Co. and Lorec Ranch stores, she said. She bought much of the art from artists at Red Earth and Affair of the Heart festivals, while other pieces are gifts from patients or are on loan from her longtime friend Victoria Woodward, who helped her decorate.
A fan of the New Mexico and Arizona landscapes, Dimick said the red rock and fairly barren environments make her feel peaceful. Meanwhile, American Indian art connects her to her Oklahoma heritage, she said.
Dimick grew up in Shattuck, where she had a bobcat as a pet and learned to wear cowboy boots. Her great-grandfather ran the town’s first general store.
Her late father, a dentist who had a passion for oil painting, captured the establishment — “TN Miller, General Merchandise” — in a piece that hangs in one exam room, while an enlarged turn-of-the-century photograph of her great-grandfather and the Kiowa Indians with whom he traded hangs in an office hallway.
Dimick’s doctor’s hours are as atypical as her doctor’s decor. She dedicates Monday and Tuesday for her lifestyle and weight-loss programs, while her clinic hours include Wednesday evenings and weekends.
“We complain people aren’t taking care of themselves, but we make it hard for people to do that,” she said. “We wanted to offer warmth, time and convenience, in order to do what we think is really important.”
Along with internal health, Dimick — who’s one of only six board-certified lipidologists in Oklahoma — specializes in the early detection of cardiometabolic risk.
One in five Americans have high lipoproteins, which puts them at increased risk for coronary heart disease, arthrosclerosis, thrombosis and stroke, Dimick said. The genetic predisposition requires special blood tests and isn’t revealed in standard lipid panel testing, she said.
“Heart disease is the Number 1 killer of men and women, and far more prevalent than breast cancer and all the other diseases we hear about so often,” she said.
The good news is a person’s genetic predisposition for heart disease is detected early, it’s preventable through diet, exercise and pharmaceuticals, she said.
Patient Jenny Dunning appreciates the fact that Dimick pursues health, as well as honors art.
“She’s a remarkable diagnostician,” said Dunning, noting that Dimick uncovered a rare genetic lipid issue in her and an autoimmune disorder in one of her daughters.
“She has an empathy and connection to her patients, which is evident in the immediately soothing office environment she created,” she said. “The invigoration of color, and energy itself, gives you a lift and begins the healing process before you even go in to see the doctor.”
Alison Hafar, Edmond interior designer and president of Spaces Inc., said she has been noticing some hospitals are using photographs of nature in Oklahoma “to create a serene environment for patients and give a nod to the state we live in.”
And other big businesses are creating a more comfortable atmosphere.
Hafar recently incorporated a residential feel in the interior design of an energy company. Details included hand-scraped hardwood floors, custom area rugs, local hand-blown glass accessories, wood window shutters, and a cast stone fireplace and expansive fish aquarium in the president’s office.