Whitehall News

New center expected to improve employees' health, city's wealth

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Pamela Namenyi (left) a family nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner, and medical assistant Nancy Duston work in the reception area of the new Whitehall Employee Wellness Center on South Yearling Road on March 8.

Whitehall projects savings of about $1.5 million in the ensuing decade from a new employee wellness center designed to control health-care costs.

The Whitehall Employee Wellness Center opened Feb. 25 at 538 S. Yearling Road, in a 6,100-square-foot office building that had been vacant for several years.

The center occupies 1,800 square feet of the office building. The Whitehall Community Improvement Corp. will lease the remainder to multiple tenants for other uses, Whitehall Development Director Zach Woodruff said.

The office building on South Yearling Road is one of several vacant structures the Whitehall Community Improvement Corp. acquired in the past several years and placed in the city's land bank. The office building was renovated with a $250,000 grant from the city's development department.

The wellness center is believed to be a first of its kind in central Ohio for employees of a municipality, Woodruff said.

"In an age of escalating health care costs, we think this first-of-its-kind wellness center will benefit our employees and the city," he said.

Whitehall has contracted with Keypoint Health Services Inc. to staff the wellness center 24 hours a week.

The wellness center is open variable hours during the week for the city's 145 full-time employees and their dependents, as well as qualifying part-time employees for a nominal fee.

Employees will have an opportunity to visit physicians for basic health care needs and prescriptions, but a goal of the center also is to provide health care programs designed to encourage and help residents achieve a healthier lifestyle and in turn, reduce health care costs for the city.

"Chronic disease management, weight control, fewer sick days taken by employees and reducing occupational injuries are all part of what we hope the center will provide," Whitehall Human Resources Director Lynn McNabb said.

The wellness center will operate in a trial mode for a few months, McNabb said, as optimal hours and programming are explored.

"But we hope to expand programming in the future," she said.

McNabb said the city expects to match a return on its investment in about six months and save as much as $1.5 million in the next 10 years.