Gloria Griffin sees the health issues that her community faces every day.
Griffin is superintendent of Millwood Public Schools, a school district in one of the poorest areas in Oklahoma City.
Wednesday, Griffin sat in the second row of a grand opening ceremony for the Northeast Regional Health and Wellness Campus, a health facility that offers hope for residents of the 73111 ZIP code.
Griffin sees the opportunities that the facility at 2600 NE 63 could provide children and their parents in the area.
“It provides a service to a target population where we have greater health issues in Oklahoma County,” Griffin said. “Secondly, it helps to enhance and develop this Adventure District. It's accessible to a number of communities, and I truly believe that the very fact that it's here in northeast Oklahoma City will add to further development of the area.”
Once it is finished, the 54-acre campus will include two buildings that equal more than 60,000 square feet, along with a community playground, domestic violence intervention services, four walking trails with five fitness stations and physical fitness opportunities for older residents.
The first building is open and will serve as a place where residents can participate in a variety of the programs that the Oklahoma City-County Health Department offers, including cooking classes and health seminars, among other activities.
Oklahoma health leaders picked the campus's location within the 73111 ZIP code to bring the services to people who need them most.
The area is one of the poorest in the Oklahoma City metro and has some of the poorest health outcomes, with high rates of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
There are nearly 5,000 households in the area, and half of them have incomes of $24,999 or less. About 25 percent of households have an income of less than $10,000. And about 35 percent of residents are on food stamps, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“73111 has the worst health prospects in the county — it's one of the worst in the state,” Dr. Stephen Cagle, the chairman of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department's board. “We know that poverty and low-income people have the worst health outcomes. Economics and health go hand in hand. We thought we'd have our campus here to make it more accessible.”
The entire state faces challenges similar to these residents. Oklahoma has long held some of the worst rankings in the nation for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and smoking.
This past year, Oklahoma was ranked No. 43 in overall health in a national report, the highest ranking the state has received in eight years.
Gov. Mary Fallin said even though Oklahoma has seen improvement, it isn't good enough.
The northeast campus serves as a model for how communities can foster private and public partnerships to better their residents' health.
“I think it's one of the smartest things we've done, to put a facility like this in a place where people don't have as much access to health care or maybe aren't as educated about health outcomes, and this is one of the ways we can help them get more information, good access to care and treat illnesses and have better outcomes for our state,” Fallin said.
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