Louisiana Wellness Center Goes Healthy and Green

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center39s 73 million wellness center when completed in early 2016 will be open to patients members of the community and hospital staff in an effort to lower the obesity rate in the community Image courtesy of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center
<p>Thibodaux Regional Medical Center&#39;s $73 million wellness center, when completed in early 2016, will be open to patients, members of the community and hospital staff in an effort to lower the obesity rate in the community. <em>Image courtesy of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. </em></p>

A $73 million wellness center under construction in southeastern Louisiana aims to improve the health of its area citizens while preserving the environmental health of the community at large.

The wellness center, being built by Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Thibodaux, LA, will feature not only three swimming pools, running tracks, a gymnasium, a large fitness center and several medical health centers but also environmentally friendly features, such as self-powering elevators and solar panels to generate on-site electricity. Thibodaux Regional CEO Greg Stock predicts that the facility will open in early 2016.

"There's nothing like this in the whole region," Stock says of the five-parish area served by Thibodaux Regional. "We have to get a little upstream from the acute care costs and all the money we are spending today, and need to make sure people are getting healthier in general, especially concerning things like obesity and diabetes, two major health risk factors for our region."

When completed, Stock says the wellness center will encompass more than 24,000 square feet and will host "centers of excellence" on subjects such as neuroscience, sports medicine, weight management, endocrinology, diabetes assessment and control, cancer and cardiac care. The state of Louisiana, Stock says, is rated 49th among U.S. states in health status.

"We have a great hospital, but when you are rated 49th in overall health status, you have a lot of work to do in helping people stay healthy outside of the hospital," Stock says.

The center's three pools will include a therapeutic pool with a floor that can be raised, lowered or tilted to serve as an aquatic therapy site for those recovering from knee or hip injuries or surgeries. Thibodaux Regional doctors will refer patients to the facility, but it also will be open to the hospital's estimated 1,200 staff members. Members of the public in all five parishes that the hospital serves will have access to the facility for an as yet undetermined monthly fee.  

The building has several engineering and architectural elements added to reduce energy and water costs, Stock says. Among them, the structure's elevators will use an active braking system to generate their own electricity, and solar panels will collect sunlight to heat pools and offices. Stock notes that the building has been designed to capture a lot of external light.

"That's not only a green thing, but it makes you feel good, too," Stock says.

Overall water and energy-efficiency measures are estimated to save the facility more than $150,000 in annual electric costs and 700,000 gallons of water per year—the equivalent, he says, of 5 million bottles of water.

"We want to serve the whole community, as we care about our overall community health," Stock says. "We will have firemen in here, policemen. We've been working with the school systems to have them do classes here. We just want everyone to get a little bit healthier."