Rita Freeney imagines Oklahoma City’s least healthy residents walking their way to a better life.
It’s one of the ideas taking root on Oklahoma City’s northeast side, where a 54-acre health and wellness campus conceived to transform ideas for healthy living into action will open in May.
Public health officials hope gathering together a range of services will give residents a chance to renew neighborhoods beset by obesity, drug abuse and crime.
“Come walk with us,” said Freeney, executive director of Sisters in Motion, one of the groups partnering with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department in the Northeast Regional Health and Wellness Campus.
Public health officials purposely chose their site on NE 63 in the 73111 ZIP code.
Cigarettes, processed food, no place to play and drugs contribute to 70 percent of premature deaths in 73111, known as the unhealthiest ZIP code in Oklahoma City.
“Much of that is preventable,” said Gary Cox, the Health Department’s director.
At the center of the campus is a 36,800-square-foot, $6.9 million building primarily of brick with a metal roof and designed to be energy efficient and inexpensive to maintain.
Constructed in three distinct sections, the building is designed to promote integration of services and collaboration among health professionals, said architect Duane Mass.
Inside, primary medical care, mental health care and social services will be provided by teams working to ensure clients get preventive care to head off the onset of disease and continuing care to manage chronic illness.
Community groups will use a 400-seat auditorium. A kitchen is designed for cooks to demonstrate techniques for preparing healthy meals.