View Full Version : Department of Health Lab



Plutonic Panda
12-11-2014, 10:41 PM
Apparently is in horrible shape and needs a new building. Cost estimated at $49 million and the state might have to send the tests to another state if a new one isn't approved.


OKLAHOMA CITY - If you think our State Capitol building is in bad shape, health officials say the state's public health lab is right up there with it.

The lab is outdated and cramped, and if it isn't fixed soon, officials say public health could be at risk.

The laboratory is closed to the public for safety reasons, but it's located in the basement of the 12-story Oklahoma State Health Department building and has been since the 1970's.

"This has been something that we have proposed for the last six years, and it's now at the critical stage," said Tony Sellars, spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Health Department .

Behind its closed doors, hundreds of thousands of health tests take place, including newborn screenings and flu tests. But the lab itself is being tested and inspectors have given it an "F."

"Delays, lack of space and capacity is something that is critical," Sellars said.

The state's public health lab has been cited twice for lack of space.

It has another inspection in February. If it doesn't pass, the lab could lose accreditation and be sanctioned.

"Just so many reasons for why we need to get this done immediately," Sellars said.

Doctors deal with flooding issues, mold, poor drainage, a failing A.C. unit, and mechanical problems but the cost to construct a brand new laboratory is steep.

The price tag is $49 million dollars total in bonds. The health department is asking the state legislature for $5.8 million each year for 10 years to pay it all off, similar to a mortgage payment.

- Oklahoma State Department Of Health Lab In Need Of Improvements - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports | (http://www.news9.com/story/27609344/oklahoma-state-department-of-health-lab-in-need-of-improvements)

bombermwc
12-12-2014, 09:07 AM
You know I read that and then I looked at where it is, and I'm a little confused. So the address they list is in the OK County/City health department building in hospital city. It's hard to miss....13 floors of rather drab 70's design. But that building is NOT old. The idea that someone claims it's useless is a hard sell to me. Now if they feel they have outgrown it because they have more demand than they have space for, great. But AC and Sewer issues are not something to make a claim over. HVAC can be replaced and it's an office tower, the entire drain on a floor can be gutted and replaced with little effort....you just pull it out from the floor below. So a lot of what they complain about are just strict building maintenance issues that could be corrected by some TLC.

I get what they're saying about the need to do something, but I don't feel like they've done it in the right way. It would actually be cheaper to move out some non-descript office space from the building and expand the lab than to build a new lab. That way you can make use of the existing lab and expand into the new space for whatever needs expanding. As long as the state continues to grow, they'll eventually outgrow the new place as well. It's the same gripe any state agency has about being in a building...space/maintenance/etc....which happens to be the same gripe any office has about their building. The folks there tend to cry wolf though quite often. We continue to hear about the issues with the morgues as well and medical examiners. If things really are as bad as they say they are (and aren't being blown out of proportion my media), then we should have long since lost accreditation. Keep in mind that a former news anchor was the PR voice for the place for a while (not sure if she still is...Cherokee Ballard).

HangryHippo
12-12-2014, 09:36 AM
You know I read that and then I looked at where it is, and I'm a little confused. So the address they list is in the OK County/City health department building in hospital city. It's hard to miss....13 floors of rather drab 70's design. But that building is NOT old. The idea that someone claims it's useless is a hard sell to me. Now if they feel they have outgrown it because they have more demand than they have space for, great. But AC and Sewer issues are not something to make a claim over. HVAC can be replaced and it's an office tower, the entire drain on a floor can be gutted and replaced with little effort....you just pull it out from the floor below. So a lot of what they complain about are just strict building maintenance issues that could be corrected by some TLC.

I get what they're saying about the need to do something, but I don't feel like they've done it in the right way. It would actually be cheaper to move out some non-descript office space from the building and expand the lab than to build a new lab. That way you can make use of the existing lab and expand into the new space for whatever needs expanding. As long as the state continues to grow, they'll eventually outgrow the new place as well. It's the same gripe any state agency has about being in a building...space/maintenance/etc....which happens to be the same gripe any office has about their building. The folks there tend to cry wolf though quite often. We continue to hear about the issues with the morgues as well and medical examiners. If things really are as bad as they say they are (and aren't being blown out of proportion my media), then we should have long since lost accreditation. Keep in mind that a former news anchor was the PR voice for the place for a while (not sure if she still is...Cherokee Ballard).

I think we did lose accreditation for a bit over the ME's offices. And if you haven't been in the offices, you're being way too dismissive. It's in bad shape.

traxx
12-12-2014, 10:10 AM
It's actually not the Oklahoma City County health department which is on 23rd. It's the State Health Deparment which is near OUHSC. The building is at least 40 years old and not in good shape. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if there's still asbestos in that building.

progressiveboy
12-13-2014, 10:51 AM
Between the Medical Examiners Office and the Health Lab office this is quite embarrassing. OKC "can" do better. Hope state officials make this a high priority so we do not continue to lose accreditation.

bombermwc
01-05-2015, 09:17 AM
traxx - I believe they're all in the same building over on near OU med. At least they list that address as their contact address, not one near state agencies on 23rd.

traxx
01-12-2015, 10:43 AM
traxx - I believe they're all in the same building over on near OU med. At least they list that address as their contact address, not one near state agencies on 23rd.

No, this is the Oklahoma City County Health Department on 23rd and Kelley: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=35.493233,-97.494419&spn=0.000012,0.006968&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=35.493231,-97.495542&panoid=AlLOt9f-KAig3ShIKQ1YtA&cbp=12,9.04,,0,-0.21

This is the Oklahoma State Department of Health on 10th and Stonewall where the health lab is: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=35.478146,-97.494446&spn=0.000017,0.013937&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=35.478147,-97.494324&panoid=h-nrSARHjc5UrvgSIPE20w&cbp=12,167.78,,0,-3.12

The OK state health department and the OK city/county health department are different entities.

bombermwc
01-13-2015, 07:37 AM
Regardless of that point, my argument still sticks since the building I'm talking about is the one the complaint surrounds.

jn1780
01-13-2015, 08:22 AM
I think we did lose accreditation for a bit over the ME's offices. And if you haven't been in the offices, you're being way too dismissive. It's in bad shape.

We never regained it back. Going on 6 years now without accreditation.

HangryHippo
01-13-2015, 08:28 AM
We never regained it back. Going on 6 years now without accreditation.

Well, that's deplorable.

bombermwc
01-14-2015, 07:52 AM
So if it's that bad, my question is why is it that bad? The building isn't very old and there isn't anything in there that couldn't be repaired at a far lower cost than a new structure. If one group is having problems, then others should be too. And if we just move one group out, then it leaves all of the others in there to suffer under the same unresolved problems. I just don't quite understand why we can't get the building issues corrected. HVAC is super easy to fix, and really so is a sewer in a building like that. You just have to give a contractor the funds/time to do it. Moving one group out also means there's less consolidation, and it makes cooperation that much more difficult. I'd be far more interested in supporting a repair effort than a new construction effort. In the end, the goal is to have a properly functioning space....not just to have a new one.

jn1780
01-14-2015, 08:36 AM
This is the State of Oklahoma were talking about. The building is bad because it was built crappy to begin with and the state spends little money on yearly building upkeep. Same reason we have a jail that already needs to be replaced.

Also, you can't really compare the needs of a paper pusher on the third floor to the needs of a lab tech in the basement. I'm sure they can repair it, but the costs would be higher then just building a specialized 1 story lab somewhere.

But don't worry, I'm sure no new building will be built and no repairs will be made anytime soon. Until the situation gets so bad, Oklahoma is forced to fix it at double the cost. Which will eventually happen with the jail.

Edit: After rereading the story. Their not planning on moving them out. They are expanding by adding a new lab to the building.

bombermwc
01-15-2015, 07:57 AM
The jail is a county project, not state. The firm responsible for it was also responsible for Plaza Towers Elementary. The firm went out of business in the late 90's as well....lets not compare where it's not fair.

I understand what you're saying on the lab vs an office worker, but in all reality, they're really the same. The lab simply has more electrical/hvac/draininage needs. They're not creating Frankenstein up there, they're doing lab tests. My point is, you can rip out the entire HVAC on their floor and pull the entire drain from the floor below if you need to and spend 1/10th of what a new structure would cost. It would make far more sense to me to move the "paper pushers" to office space elsewhere (and it would cost far less to move them) and allow the lab to expand out to another floor...and you can do the repairs as you go. The whole plan they came up with just doesn't make any sense. It feels, at least to me, that they're after just getting out of the building to new digs rather than focusing on getting their needs met.

SoonerBeerMan
01-15-2015, 09:16 AM
As a current lab technician (not at the State), labs need specialized HVAC units with HEPA filtration. You also need house vacuum systems, ventilation systems, gas systems, distilled water systems, 220V electrical systems, and (assuming they store samples) walk-in coolers with back-up power supplies capable of -20C. I'm no architect, but I'm sure its possible for them to renovate the current space. But they'd have to move office workers out of a higher floor, build the new lab to current standards that would pass accreditation, renovate lower floors to handle the added weight (specifically of the walk-in cooler units), and run the vacuum and ventilation pipes up through higher floors. You get my point. In all reality, they're no where near the same.

traxx
01-15-2015, 03:51 PM
bomber, you keep saying the building is not that old. It was opened in the early '70s so that means it's around 42 or 43 years old. Maybe I'm misreading what you're saying, but I get the impression you think it's only about 15 years old.

It's got that ugly Brutalist style architecure and as someone above said, I don't think the upkeep on the building has been done very well. It's been beyond capacity for quite some time. If I'm not mistaken that's why WIC is housed at Shepherd Mall. There may be other groups in the health department that are housed outside the building because of not enough space too. Seems like I heard but can't remember now what groups that would be.

bombermwc
01-16-2015, 07:43 AM
I knew it was from the 70's, but it's newer than a lot of the state structures. My argument is more based on the idea that moving one entity out into its own building is woefully inefficient and ends up costing the state even more money. 40 years old isn't OLD by any means in a mid-rise. And being from the 70's, it has a lot of advantages over some of the older structures in terms of electrical. At least they had computers in the 70's...and they were a lot more power hungry then.

traxx , there are a few assumptions that can be made about the current space. If they are a lab, they would already have to have infrastructure for gas/water/etc. Electrical is VERY easy to convert because all you have to do is swap the breaker and outlets...worse case, you run a new line from the panel. I've had to have electricians do that for copiers a dozen times of the years and it's only a couple hundred to do that. So even if they need fridges that they don't have today, they can have that done. As for weight, almost any structure is build to hold that kind of weight. A commercial lab fridge isn't nearly as much as a rack of servers would weigh.

I am not for a minute going to argue that the building has been kept up well. Obviously it hasn't. What I've been arguing the whole time is that it would be far more cost-effective and efficient to leave the lab in THIS building and make the renovations/changes needed to get THIS building up to date for the lab. Moving desk jobs out of this building and into another structure (say Shepard Mall) is a move that makes far more sense to me. It would be faster, cheaper, etc. I'm just against single-purpose structures spread out up and down Lincoln because of their inefficiency. Consolidation of office space is a far better approach for a million reasons. I don't think the lab should be refused what they need, I just think there are better ways to accomplish the same goal.