It was a bold idea: instead of building a new site from the ground up why not start from the steeple down? That’s exactly what happened when Community Health Centers of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City seized on a former Methodist Church as a new medical home. Now called the Perry Klaassen Family Medical Center the new site is a stunning showcase of how old spaces can be revitalized and reused with a little creativity and architectural innovation.
“Although Community Health Centers of Oklahoma has been providing services in far northeast Oklahoma City for almost 50 years, this facility and it’s holistic approach to health and wellness should positively impact the lives of residents in 73111 and other surrounding zip codes,” said Isabella Lawson, chief executive officer of Perry Klaassen Family Medical Center. The center is expected to provide 15,000 encounters in overall family practice numbers and 6,500 patients yearly.
The existing church was an integral part of the social infrastructure for the surrounding community. Now it will be invigorated into a new space where the underserved can seek care. The health center will use the new site to provide a range of services that includes primary care, dental services, mental health services and substance abuse services, optometry, pharmacy services and administrative support.
Another benefit is the location’s proximity to the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center and Veteran Affairs, which strengthens the collaboration between the health agencies into an “avenue of available clinical services” and will improve access to care—especially during COVID-19.
The church’s small sanctuary will be utilized as a community event space that will include a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes on diet and nutrition. The education building was built in the 1940s, while the existing church sanctuary was built in the mid-1950s. The preservation of this historic building is a good example of mid-century design and will provide an excellent community space.
Throughout the renovation process, Community Health Centers of Oklahoma, Mass Architects and Augusta Construction thoughtfully took into consideration the importance of the historical landmark by preserving the original stained glass and bell tower. Even the original church pews were revitalized with the handiwork of a local artist. The pews, each painted with scenes depicting the services the health center offers, will be placed throughout the site.
Note: Renovation of the Community Health Center’s 1006 NE 17th Street building is made possible in part by support from Impact Accelerator, a subsidiary of MetaFund Corporation.