In March 2014, the Lynn Institute for Healthcare Research, Inc., began a comprehensive assessment of Northeast Oklahoma City as the first step of a multi-year program to measurably improve the health of the community.
Northeast Oklahoma City, home to the State Capitol and the Oklahoma Health Center (which encompasses the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center), is notable for its cultural and recreational wealth and for the beauty of its landscape. However, its biggest asset is the citizens. Home to a diverse population of 33,000 that includes the largest concentration of African Americans in Oklahoma, the area historically has generated some of the state’s most significant African American leaders and entrepreneurs. Oklahoma City’s history of integration and the Civil Rights Movement began in the churches, buildings and homes of Northeast Oklahoma City, and is still a matter of pride and storytelling by residents today.
Yet, Northeast Oklahoma City is also notable for its challenges. Its residents are some of the poorest, least healthy in the state, more likely to die of chronic diseases and to die much younger than other Oklahomans. Although it has some of the most desirable land features in Oklahoma City with its rolling hills and taller than usual trees, it hosts many vacant lots, abandoned buildings and deteriorating homes which have contributed to crime and lack of community services.
Why Northeast OKC?
The Lynn Healthy Community Team selected Northeast Oklahoma City because of generations of high-risk health conditions including diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. The community leads Oklahoma and in some cases, the nation, in morbidity from preventable disease, infant mortality, inadequate access to fresh food and health services, and suicide rates. Northeast Oklahoma City also is one of the most impoverished areas within the state with a shockingly high number of residents living in poverty. It is marked by blight, high crime and other environmental factors that contribute to the poor health statistics of the area.
Alternately, Northeast Oklahoma City has many assets and resources that can aid in improving the health of the area. These include proximity to the State Capitol Complex and major cultural and recreational attractions. The tri-zip area enjoys a lush landscape and more than 1,500 businesses, churches, and civic organizations.
The biggest assets are Northeast Oklahoma City residents themselves. Despite multiple adversities and a long history of institutionalized racism, the people of Northeast Oklahoma City exhibit cohesiveness and pride in their community. The area now and in the past has been home to the largest concentration of African Americans in Oklahoma, giving rise to a unique history and shared cultural heritage prized by residents.