Quality of Medical Care Prominent in Rating Urban Areas

Article excerpt

That survey of the best places to live in the United States was relatively kind to Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but Lawton fared less well.

The two largest urban centers in Oklahoma were rated near the top one-third of the 300 metropolitan areas reviewed by Money magazine. While our state had no city among the seven or eight declared most desirable in the country, it also avoided the ignominious "worst" places to live.

In looking over the criteria used by the magazine to make its selections, the availability and quality of medical care stands out prominently. Health care, in fact, appeared to have been one of four major considerations. The state of the economy, of course, weighed heavily in the rankings and might well have caused us to slip a bit in the final placement.

But health care was an important measurement, allowing Oklahoma City to finish ahead of 281 other metropolitan centers, including Tulsa, its eastern Oklahoma rival.

This city's health care establishment is enhanced by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, its medical school and the educational and training facilities for allied professions, hospitals with staffs prepared to deliver most, if not all, of today's diagnostic and surgical procedures, as well as a private network offering sophisticated care.

Clearly, the range of services found here outstrips those of many American cities and is likely to get better over time. And the broadening field of medical research adds yet another dimension.

Millions in research funds have been flowing into medical centers here from both public and private sources to finance clinical studies and, in some cases, basic research.

Even privately operated facilities are gathering data here to add to medicine's body of knowledge. The most recent example comes from the Oklahoma Lithotripsy Center at Deaconess Hospital where urologists have been treating kidney stones without surgery for little more than a year.

The center, operated by urologists associated with the private Oklahoma Kidney Stone Foundation, sent one of its own, Dr. James R. Wendelken, to London last month to present Oklahoma's newly collected medical data at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association. …