While conducting surveys and focus groups during the planning of a new hospital facility in Neillsville, it became apparent the new building could serve as more than just a hospital.
“Listening to input from community surveys and focus groups, we saw the lack of a wellness facility as a community need,” said Ryan Neville, Marshfield Medical Center-Neillsville chief administrative officer. “We also noticed that population health outcomes were affected by not having a place to exercise.”
Expanding on a YMCA partnership in nearby Marshfield, and with help from a capital campaign, a 3,000-square-foot wellness center was incorporated into the hospital design. The wellness center features a variety of exercise equipment, three private bathrooms with showers, a refreshment bar and a space for group exercise classes open to YMCA members in the community.
Since opening, the center has welcomed over 300 members. “Statistically speaking, a strong YMCA would capture 8% of residents in a community, and we’re over 10%,” said John Nystrom, Marshfield Clinic Health System YMCA CEO. “It’s created quite a buzz in the community.”
“Three hundred members can’t sustain a stand-alone building,” Nystrom continued, “but when you have a partner, like Marshfield Clinic Health System, and most of the overhead costs are shared or covered, a YMCA in a small community like that can thrive.”
In addition to the wellness center, the new facility incorporates other features built with the idea of creating a community hub in mind. It includes lease space for a local pharmacy and optometrist, preserving a 100-year old pharmacy and enhancing collaboration between health services. There’s a lobby for people to gather, Starbucks coffee and a public cafeteria.
“From a health care perspective, people are entering the campus for other reasons than a health care visit,” said Neville. “We are hoping that increases routine care and promotes health and wellness beyond clinical appointments.”