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May 30, 2014

Mercy Edmond I-35 announces grand opening

EDMOND — Mercy Edmond I-35 Administrator Nick Niver is rightly proud of the facility he manages.

Located at 15th Street and I-35, from the tiered landscaping and water feature, to the architectural design that incorporates an abundance of windows that connect with nature, to the lighting and decorative touches throughout and to the state-of-the-art fitness center, the 206,000-square-foot, $90 million facility looks warm and inviting.

It also offers a lap swimming pool, a heated rehabilitation pool, a fitness pool, a child care center for patient and fitness center member use, OB/GYN, cardiology, radiology, dermatology and general surgery services.

On Tuesday, much of the facility opened, and the remaining parts will be open in phases by the end of July, Niver said as he took The Edmond Sun on a tour late Thursday. Members of the 250-strong staff will celebrate a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today of the Mercy Fitness Center.

Guests will be able to join the center and save $150 and register for other prizes including two VIP tickets to the U.S. Senior Open Championship July 7-13 at Oak Tree National.

Evidence of the May 19, 2013, tornado — which caused $30 million worth of damage and delayed the facility’s opening by a year — is gone.

“We’re extremely excited,” Niver said. “It has been quite a journey and process to get to where we are today and this week. But we are now open to the public and we’re just ecstatic to be able to offer this building to our community and to offer tools that can be used to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”  

During the afternoon of Sunday, May 19, 2013, supercell thunderstorms quickly developed along the Interstate 44 corridor and headed northeast.

At 4:21 p.m., a tornado touched down in the vicinity of 15th and Coltrane in Edmond, according to the National Weather Service. It tracked northeast, uprooting trees and damaging homes. Before crossing the interstate, it hit Mercy Edmond I-35, causing both visible and not immediately visible damage to the structure.

The facility was preparing for a July 8 grand opening celebration at the time.

Upon closer inspection, damage was much more extensive than administrators originally estimated. Damage included structural, roof, heating and air handling equipment, windows, entrances, exterior facades, interior walls, ceilings and floors.

Original estimates put the grand opening in late summer 2014.

At the time, Niver said leaders agreed to stand by their commitments to employ location co-workers during the recovery period. Providers and staff were relocated and leaned on the dozens of existing Mercy facilities in the area to serve patients.

Mercy contacted individuals who bought memberships before the tornado struck to discuss options for fitness during the delay. A membership office was opened on site.

Other features of Mercy Edmond I-35 include pain management, sports performance and rehabilitation tools, sports medicine, and outpatient orthopedic and hand surgery, a state-of-the-art lab and occupational medicine.

The design also combines water management and habitat conservation such as restoration of native grasses and wildflowers, a preserved wildlife corridor and more than 5 acres of undisturbed existing woodland.

The site will offer more than 100 education, nutrition and workout programs including diabetes education, heart health, joint health, prenatal yoga and water aerobics.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care provider in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. As of July 2013, the system includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and 1,900 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

For more information about Mercy Edmond I-35, visit www.mercy.net/i35.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
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    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

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