New site sought for Canadian County health building

Commissioners consider real property purchase to ‘relocate’ CCHD

The Canadian County Health Department’s El Reno office, 100 S Rock Island, has limited parking. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – Property is being sought to move the Canadian County Health Department.

CCHD officials have applied for $10 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds awarded to Canadian County.

Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson

Canadian County commissioners “in a few weeks” are expected to decide on how to distribute the county’s $28.8 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation during an open meeting, Chairman Dave Anderson said.

“The health department has put in a request for the county to use ARPA dollars, along with $3 million that they have set aside over the years, to relocate the county health department,” Anderson said.

Commissioners, at an April 25th meeting, met in executive session to discuss “the purchase of real property for use as a site for the County Health Department.”

“Our executive session was for the purpose of considering real estate that could be a future home of the county health department,” Chairman Anderson said. “No decision was made where they’re going yet.

“We’re working our way through the process.”

Canadian County owns buildings in El Reno (100 S Rock Island) and Yukon (1023 E Vandament) that house the health department.

The El Reno office is a former bank building the CCHD has occupied for about 15 years. The Yukon office was built some 30 years ago and the CCHD has outgrown the space.

CCHD representatives want to find land to construct a larger building.

Some $130 billion has been allocated to counties across the U.S. through the ARPA of 2021.

This $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill is designed to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing recession.

One of the categories that Canadian County may expend ARPA funds is to respond to public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to be prepared for any future pandemics.

CCHD regional director Jan Fox, at an August 2021 meeting, told Canadian County commissioners about plans to build a public health preparedness facility in conjunction with a new health department building in Yukon.

There was no cost estimate to buy land and construct a new office, but Fox said the CCHD has ad valorem millage “carryover funds” that could be used along with county ARPA dollars.



Among primary challenges that Canadian County’s health department personnel faced during the COVID-19 pandemic were:

  • Having no drive-through testing/vaccination ability at the CCHD’s Yukon and El Reno offices.
  • Not having enough outside places to test and vaccinate large groups of people efficiently.
  • Not having enough adequate space to store personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Not having covered space to store and clean mobile units.
  • Finding a place for dozens of extra personnel, such as National Guard members and contact tracers, who came to help.

Chairman Anderson, Canadian County’s District 2 commissioner, said the CCHD’s El Reno office “doesn’t function well as a health department” due to parking limitations.

The downtown El Reno site is “inconveniently located” for large immunization or testing events, he noted.

Meanwhile, Canadian County commissioners also must decide what to do with the former Department of Human Services’ building behind the county courthouse/administration offices on N Choctaw.

They had considered moving the county’s OSU Extension Office and Election Board Office there – but determined there wouldn’t be enough space.

“We have not made a decision about who would move in there,” Anderson said. “Relocating the health department (from El Reno) would create a vacancy in that building. So, it’s a domino effect.

“We’re trying to put a plan together that makes sense when we relocate departments that are in existing places.”