Wellness center open soon

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To help locals make good on their New Year’s resolution to live right, eat healthy and exercise, Mizell Memorial Hospital officials are making plans to open the doors to the $2.7 million Wellness Center by the end of this month.

Jana Wyatt, Mizell’s chief financial officer, said work has progressed on target for the building and officials are shooting for an opening target date of Jan. 29.

“There’s still a bit of paving that needs to be finished and some minor work on the inside, but all in all, it’s almost ready to go,” Wyatt said.

Bids for the project were let this time last year on the 13,000-plus square foot Brantley Street building, which houses an indoor heated pool, equipped with handicap lifts; an exercise/weight training area, complete with everything from treadmills to state-of-the-art cardio equipment; a physical therapy rehab area; an education center/multipurpose room equipped with a commercial kitchen; a racquetball court; shower and wash room areas and office space.

Phase two of the project will consist of an indoor basketball court created using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines that would allow the space to be converted to a medical needs shelter in times of crisis.

Funding for the project came in the form of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and donations from the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation, the MMH Foundation, PowerSouth and other sources.

“Our goal behind this project was to better a person’s overall health,” Wyatt said. “This is a great time of year for us to open. People are making resolutions and we have a way for them to make good on them.

“The benefits offered are also preventative,” she said. “Obviously people come to the hospital when they are sick and need tests. Now our goal is to prevent the need for those trips to the hospital.”

Wyatt said there has been much talk about the new indoor pool.

“People are just thrilled, absolutely,” she said. “There are a lot of folks who say they’ve put off going to the gym or exercising but with the (Center) being so close and convenient, they can’t say that anymore.

“The pool is a hot topic,” she said. “It’s so exciting to hear the excitement in the community. A lot of people say they don’t like exercise equipment but love to swim.

“This facility is perfect for whatever your method of fitness is,” she said.

Additionally, the facility will be used to hold health education courses that will feature healthy cooking lessons for those having ailments such as diabetes and heart disease.

“This is the first facility of its kind in the county,” Wyatt said. “We are so fortunate to be able to provide these type services to our public.”