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Investing in wellness


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The proposed Hancock Wellness Center would be added on to the existing medical pavilion in the Brookside development in McCordsville. (Illustration provided)
The proposed Hancock Wellness Center would be added on to the existing medical pavilion in the Brookside development in McCordsville. (Illustration provided)


MCCORDSVILLE — Hancock Regional Hospital, whose mission is to provide quality care to patients who enter the hospital, is poised to invest more in a strategy to keep them out of it.

The hospital is considering building a second wellness center, which would be attached to the HRH medical pavilion on CR 600W in McCordsville. If the plan is approved by the hospital board, the facility, which will be larger than the center on New Road in Greenfield, could be up and running by next summer.

Preliminary cost estimates put the price of the new building at more than $8 million.

Hospital planners believe the time is right to locate a new branch of Hancock Wellness in McCordsville, as the town continues to grow and as the idea of what it means to provide health care changes.

Health management will be the future of health care, and Hancock Wellness Center director David Flench said that is the approach the group is taking in planning the expansion.

 “The goal of (health management) is to keep a patient population as healthy as possible, minimizing the need for expensive interventions such as emergency department visits, hospitalizations, imaging costs and procedures,” Flench said.

The focus is on healthy behavior and lifestyle changes as the health care industry changes. Hospitals in the future will be motivated to keep people out of their inpatient hospital beds to keep costs lower, doing so increasingly in outpatient settings.

That is where facilities such as the wellness center come in. The facility on New Road oversees hundreds of medically supervised rehabilitation regimens that are designed to strengthen patients’ recovery.

According to Flench, the Hancock Wellness Center is the only certified medical fitness center in central Indiana and one of only 35 in the nation. It differs from traditional fitness centers by focusing on community health; providing medical oversight and prevention programs; conducting personalized health screening assessments; and measuring and tracking individual and program outcomes. Those efforts would continue at the new branch.

Examples of programs at the center include physician-referral exercise programs; cardiac rehab; risk-reduction programs; diabetes education; physical therapy; health coaching and more.

 “This is health care, not a health club,” Flench said. “This is focusing on health behavior and lifestyle change.”

Planners predict the center would attract about 1,550 member accounts and 3,500 total members. For comparison, Hancock Wellness Center in Greenfield has about 2,000 member accounts and 4,000 total members.

The facility will have two levels. Plans for the main floor include space for a main exercise area; a lap pool and a separate therapy spa; a gymnasium; locker rooms; exercise studios; a Jungle Club to offer baby-sitting services; rehabilitation services; meeting rooms; and office space. There will be a walking/jogging track on the second floor.

The building size will be about 37,000 square feet, or about 2,000 square feet more than the center in the Greenfield location.

Construction costs will be about $7.3 million, with an additional $1.12 million likely to be spent on fixtures, furnishings and equipment. Including fees for permits and other costs, the total cost of the project is estimated at about $8.8 million, though Flench was quick to point out that those numbers are not yet final and have not been approved by the Hancock Regional Hospital board.

Overall, the project is projected to contribute 40 new jobs to the area, including 12 full-time jobs and 28 part-time positions.

The center is expected to generate about $150,000 in property taxes.

The hospital, which recently presented plans to the McCordsville Town Council, is applying for a $2 million infrastructure incentive from the town.

Lisa Lee of law firm Ice Miller and special counsel to the McCordsville Redevelopment Commission, said the money could come from the town’s existing TIF district.

Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock County Economic Development Council, said the wellness center addition is attractive because of the value of spinoff commerce.

 “Because of every job they are providing in the health-care and fitness industry, there’s an assumed multiplier effect,” Kuker said. “They’re going to need repairs on the machines. They’re going to need new carpeting. There’s a natural assumption for a multiplier there.”

He estimated that McCordsville’s total benefit over a 15-year period – including through jobs and property taxes – would be about $3 million.

The site of the new building will require a lot of work. A new stormwater retention pond will be required, as well as a new public road and additional utilities. The timeline planners have laid out indicates construction could begin this fall.

“We’re hoping to present to our board in August,” Flench said.

During the winter in 2014 and in spring 2015, the hospital will begin posting jobs and start the hiring process and begin pre-opening membership sales. In summer 2015, HRH plans to finish hiring and acquire all the necessary equipment for a grand opening in the summer. The project has been in the works for more than two years.

Rick Edwards, CFO at Hancock Regional Hospital, told the McCordsville Town Council last week that the group hopes to be a partner with McCordsville.

“We are trying to put together operations that are efficient and effective and work well not only for Hancock Regional but also the community and the town,” Edwards said. “That’s what we feel like this project is.”

McCordsville Town Council president Barry Wood said the town’s support for the project was a “no-brainer.”

Council member Tom Strayer agreed, endorsing the idea of incentives.

“I can’t think of a more ideal use for TIF funds than something that acts like a magnet like this would for the community,” he said.

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