Gunnels leaves mark on center

Published 1:14 am Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dr. Wheeler Gunnels, medical director at Mizell Memorial Hospital, was honored Tuesday at the ribbon cutting of the Mizell Wellness Center, as the building was dedicated in his honor.

“We are very proud of you and you deserve this,” Mizell CEO Allen Foster told Gunnels, who was unaware that he was going to be honored at the ribbon cutting.

“I might get a little emotional here, please forgive me,” Gunnels said. “I appreciate you honoring me, but this was really a team effort. I just want to thank our city and state officials for taking the leap of faith that we could do something like this for our town and county.”

Officials unveiled a sign that hangs by the front door of the center, designating it as the “Dr. Wheeler Gunnels Building.” Foster said the sign is only a temporary one, but a metal engraved plaque has been ordered and will replace the temporary sign as soon as possible.

The center officially opened Fri., Feb. 13, and includes a swimming pool, fitness area including gym, and racquetball court. Membership fees vary based on the number of facilities used and number of family members who sign up to use the center.

Hours are Monday through Thursday from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday from 5:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. The center is closed on Sundays.

“So often it seems like hospitals are waiting for you to get sick,” Foster said. “But that’s not what our mission should be. Our mission should be complete health, and I believe this center provides the opportunity for us to fulfill that mission of keeping our people healthy and well.”

After giving a short speech of thanks, Gunnels expressed his appreciation for the honor with a light-hearted quip that drew several laughs.

“I’m just thankful to God that this sign does not say ‘in memory of,’” he said.

Call 493-1730 for more information about the center.