State-of-the-art Health Department nearing completion

The LeFlore County Health Department is soon to move into it’s new multi-million-dollar facility located on Dewey Avenue in Poteau. The current health department was built in the 1960s and has been constantly declining over the years since the department took possession of the building in 1991. The building was originally a nursing home and its dilapidated state was the driving force behind the new facility. The construction of the new facility began in May 2012 after the county approved the $3.4 million plans. In a move to provide long-term efficiency, several utility modifications were installed. The new building features a geothermal heat pump to heat and cool the building instead of a boiler room. The expense for the geothermal system, was large initially, nearly double the cost of a typical boiler room, but the health department will benefit from the expense over time through reduced energy costs. The use of fusion-welded pipes also will reduce corrosion, saving the department even more money over time.The 19,852 square foot facility also will be able to treat more patients than the current building, as additional space will provide for more patient rooms and space for community meetings. The building will sport a new look in the main lobby, one which will provide patients with a more private and comfortable experience. When patients walk into the department, the first thing they will notice are the check-in stations built at an angle with acoustic backing to provide more privacy than at the previous department. With the added space, the department plans to see additional patients treated in the upcoming year. In 2012, the department served more than 8,500 people and foresees a reoccurring annual increase.The department has several programs available for people of all ages. The programs include Women, Infant and Children Nutrition program, family planning for both men and women, sexually transmitted disease screening and immunization programs for individuals of all ages.The facility was designed by Ambler Architecture of Bartlesville, which has designed health department facilities for two other counties. Construction is being handled by Oakridge Builders of Tulsa, which has completed several projects for Carl Albert State College, including the Deanna J. Reed Science and Math Center.The reality of a new facility came from multiple financial sources. The Health Department had set aside funds each year for the past several years to fund the construction of the facility. The department found a way to provide $1 million toward completing the project. The land on which the new facility sits, was donated by Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center, resulting in a large financial saving for the county. The remainder of the funds needed to complete the project and open the doors to patients came from bonds issued through the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority. The bonds were issued for 20 years and were set up through the state bonding authority for reduced interest rates. The state health department incurred the bond debts resulting in no cost at the county level. The facility is scheduled to open in May.