06/22/07 — Cherry Hospital now offers staff, some patients workouts on-site

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Cherry Hospital now offers staff, some patients workouts on-site

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 22, 2007 1:45 PM

A converted office at Cherry Hospital now serves as a place for staff to exercise at their convenience.

Judy Howell, medical education coordinator at Cherry, said the move was a long time coming.

"Our employees have been asking for it -- everyone's becoming more and more health conscious," she said.

Being a state agency, though, meant having to clear a few hurdles along the way. But after nearly a yearlong effort, the Employee Wellness Center officially opened this week.

The workout room features elliptical machines, bicycles, a treadmill and free weights. It will be open 24 hours a day to allow easy access for the variety of shift workers at the hospital.

The wellness committee worked hard over the past year to bring about the addition, Ms. Howell said.

"Some people donated equipment and we had some money that the division was going to donate for wellness at each agency," she explained. "We have a wellness fund that we have money in every year to promote wellness in the hospital."

Others also contributed to the effort, including a Girl Scout troop that volunteered to paint some of the walls to spruce things up.

The center is located on the second floor of the Royster Building, where many of the administrative offices are housed.

In addition to featuring workout equipment, brochures and pamphlets will also be available to provide incentives and information about health issues.

The center will be operated on somewhat of an honor system, Ms. Howell said. Since it will be open 24 hours day, seven days a week and no staff has been hired to run it, employees will be asked to sign a waiver before using the equipment.

Having the ease and accessibility of working out is a plus, she added.

"We're encouraging people to be healthy, to stay healthy," she said. "We're really excited about getting this facility. They can come in after or before work and it's not going to cost them anything."

The center will also provide work therapy for patients to learn job skills, Ms. Howell said.

"We'll have a work program for them to clean the gym, do whatever has to be done. ... They can learn some skills for when they go home," she said.