Ground Broken

Tulsa, OK – Ground breaking for the new $20-million University of Oklahoma Wayman Tisdal Specialty Center took place this morning at Neighbor For Neighbor at 505 East 36th Street North. The clinic will be built next to N-For-N in a region with minimal access to health care services. Construction is expected to begin in the spring. Wayman Tisdale is a former OU and NBA basketball star who grew-up in North Tulsa.

"The University of Oklahoma is proud to have the opportunity to help elevate the availability of quality medical care in north Tulsa," said OU President David L. Boren. "It is especially gratifying that the clinic will bear the name of Wayman Tisdale, whose life truly expressed the best of the Sooner Spirit'." Regina Tisdale, Wayman's wife, said, "If Wayman were here, he would simply say, wow!,' with a gigantic smile. We are overjoyed and happy to see this health center named after him. Wayman was always concerned about the well-being of others. I'd like to say a big thank you to all who made this possible. His desire was to see people happy and healed. Now his life and legacy will be carried on through the work of others in this center."

The 50,000 square-foot Tisdale Specialty Center will serve patients in north, east and west Tulsa and will focus on specialty care, including the treatment of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The Tisdale Center physicians will work in collaboration with federally funded community health centers such as Morton Comprehensive Health Center, Community Health Connections and the Tulsa City-County Health Department, to specifically reduce preventable health disparities.

The Tisdale Center will also offer urgent care; diagnostic testing such as CT, MRI and mammography; colonoscopy and endoscopy procedures; one-day and outpatient surgery; chemotherapy and a cardiac rehabilitation center.

"This will be a phenomenal facility providing access to much needed specialty care health services for the residents of Tulsa, particularly, north Tulsa. It will be a place of healing and restoration, and will go a long way in bringing not only physical healing but social and economic healing to our community," said Wayman's brother, Weldon L. Tisdale, Sr., who is Pastor of Friendship Church of Tulsa. "We are truly humbled and honored to have Wayman's name associated with this project. It is our hope that the citizens will take advantage of this vital and necessary resource."

According to OU-Tulsa faculty research, life expectancy in north, east and west Tulsa neighborhoods is 14 years less than neighborhoods in south Tulsa. Additionally, for every one physician in north, east and west Tulsa, there are 26 physicians in midtown and south Tulsa. More than 30 OU Physicians will practice at the Tisdale Center and more than 150 healthcare professionals will be employed there. "This is an important piece of the puzzle in our community's effort to improve health for all," said Gerard P. Clancy, M.D., OU-Tulsa president. "We are grateful for the ongoing guidance and support from the community as we add these clinical services."

Funding for the OU Wayman Tisdale Specialty Center came from a variety of public and private sources, including $6 million from the State Legislature, $4 from University Hospitals Authority & Trust, $3 million from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, $3.5 million from anonymous donors, $1 million from the Morningside Healthcare Foundation, $1 million from Saint Francis Health System, $750,000 from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, and $750,000 from the Helmerich Foundation. St. John Medical Center has pledged $1 million in medical equipment support.

The Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Center Advisory Board currently meets monthly to provide recommendations and guidance related to the services that will be offered at the Tisdale Clinic.The board is comprised of more than 25 community leaders from north, west and east Tulsa.

The OU School of Community Medicine will also create intern and shadowing programs based at the Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Center for students at Tulsa's McLain and Booker T. Washington High Schools. Students who are interested in careers in health professions such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, radiography, social work and public health will have multiple learning opportunities at the Tisdale Center.

Wayman Tisdale was born into a prominent family in Tulsa, excelled at Booker T. Washington High School and chose OU as the place to make his mark on college basketball. He played three years at OU from 1983 through 1985 and was the first player in collegiate history to be named a first-team All-American his OU freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. A three-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and an Olympic gold medalist, Tisdale went on to successful careers in the NBA and as a musician.

In 2007, Tisdale broke his right leg while walking down stairs in his home in California. After doctors discovered a cancerous tumor behind his knee, he returned home to Oklahoma. His leg was amputated a year after his cancer was discovered. During his fight with cancer, Tisdale continued to smile, make music and embrace those who saw him as a model of living life to the fullest, even during trying times.

In the months before his death, Tisdale focused on helping others, including those who cannot afford prosthetic limbs. His experience led him to refocus the work of the Wayman Tisdale Foundation to reflect those new priorities and to work with the OU Cancer Institute.

The OU Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Center will carry forward his tradition of caring by bringing specialty medicine, including cancer, cardiac and urgent care services, to those with limited access to care.