When SSM Saint Anthony’s became El Reno's primary health provider on May 1, the arrangement was described as a first for “rural Oklahoma.”

No other community, an SSM official said at the time, would have a 24-hour emergency room provided in conjunction with an Urgent Care Clinic.

Little did anyone know, three weeks later that arrangement would be credited with helping to care for dozens of people who were injured when a late-night killer tornado struck.

“We treated dozens of people,” said Kyle Nondorf, Chief Financial Officer for SSM Saint Anthony’s.

He was referring to the aftermath of the EF-3 tornado that hit El Reno around 10:30 the night of May 25. The twister killed two people while it destroyed a mobile home park as well as a nearby motel. Other businesses and a motel in the area were also hit by the storm.

Injuries ranged from minor to life-threatening, but thanks to the actions of first responders and emergency room personnel, the death toll did not rise.

Almost three months to the day, SSM Saint Anthony’s is announcing more health services will be coming to El Reno as well as more physicians.

This while plans continue to move forward on a planned $10 million healthplex that will be built in the Crossroads Pointe development, ironically a few hundred yards from where the tornado cut its path.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-October and Nondorf said it’s expected to take about 16 months to complete the project. SSM will lease the building from the city of El Reno. Nondorf said the plan is to have four observation beds included in the healthplex. This will allow a patient to stay for up to 24 hours before either being admitted to the main hospital in Oklahoma City or being released.

The health provider is not waiting for the new building to add more health services for the El Reno area.

SSM recently opened a cardiology specialty clinic. Dr. Vinodh Jeevanantham and Dr. Radwan Kesserwan, board certified interventional cardiologists will see patients by appointment at the SSM Health Medical Group Clinic, 2315 Parkview Drive.  

And Nondorf said telemedicine specialty clinics for pulmonary, pain management and endrocronology patients will be opening inside the SSM Clinic.

Nondorf said physician recruitment is going well. A new doctor is expected to join the SSM team in El Reno after the first of the year and Saints has been in discussion with other physicians who have expressed interest in working here.

“We have been very pleased with the support we’ve received from the community,” Nondorf said.

That support was evident last week as several dozen people turned out for an El Reno Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting, welcoming the SSM clinic.

Dr. Kevin Lewis, president of the SSM Medical Group in Oklahoma, said the health-care organization is “thankful for the partnership” it has in El Reno. He told the ribbon-cutting crowd, SSM works to “operate with confidence and humility. Our motto is to grow bigger but act smaller,” said Lewis.

Nondorf said those who may wish to transfer their medical records to SSM Saint Anthony’s can do so by calling the El Reno clinic.