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Dominican Plaza expands reach of St. Dominic’s mission

Jackson — When patients walk into the second floor of St. Dominic’s new wellness center this fall, they will be able to scan the room from left to right and see the progress being made as people move from rehabilitation to wellness.

Dominican Plaza, the 84,000-square-foot, six-story complex being built at the corner of Lakeland Drive and Interstate 55 South Frontage Road, will combine the hospital’s outpatient services, including physical and occupational therapy programs, and Healthline, St. Dominic’s Community Health Service’s membership-based total wellness and fitness center. The move represents a giant step forward for the wellness program — and its mission.

“We have always been big proponents of wellness, but there are a couple of things we’re trying to do differently with Dominican Plaza,” said Barry Plunkett, vice president of St. Dominic Health Services, who oversees strategic planning for the hospital’s outreach entities, including Healthline.

“We’re trying to encompass the concept of wellness for those people who have been ill, such as those recovering from a stroke, or injured, perhaps from some type of orthopedic injury,” he said. “That’s why we hope there will be a real positive synergy between outpatient physical therapy, which is a prescribed modality, and the individual-motivated exercise routine. In the middle is a bubble that transitions people from one side to the other, with professionals available to help throughout.”

St. Dominic Health Services added Healthline to its roster in the early 1980s, initially to provide wellness lectures, behavioral management programs, exercise classes and free health screenings to community residents and corporate clients.

The wellness program has grown to provide members with a first-class fitness complex equipped with high-tech exercise equipment featuring Smart Cards for monitoring progress, water aerobics classes, CPR courses, babysitting classes and smoking cessation and weight management programs. Executive members reap the benefits of comprehensive physical examinations, including diagnostic imaging and private consultations with a physician, nutritionist, and fitness and mental health professionals on an appointment basis.

“All the aspects of Dominican Plaza have been carefully planned to promote healthy lifestyles,” said Plunkett. “No matter where you are in your Healthline, we hope to find a place for your optimal physical condition.”

Raising the bar

The new non-smoking facility will feature a heart-healthy menu in the first floor deli, on the same level as a handicap-accessible lap pool, heated deep-water therapy pool and full-service locker rooms.

“Our new facility in Dominican Plaza will allow us space to offer more equipment, more classes for all fitness levels and more trained staff to expand our services,” said director Amy Batson, who plans to immediately add more capacity to the popular childcare and babysitting safety courses for children ages 10 to 13.

“Those classes have been sold out practically from day one,” said Plunkett.

Pilates classes, indoor cycling (spinning), adult CPR certification, yoga, martial arts and massage therapy sessions will also be offered at the new center, which will feature an indoor walking track and an outdoor walking trail.

“We’re looking at more than just the body, but also mind and attitude as a total wellness package,” said Plunkett. “If we can convince people that prevention and maintenance are as important to themselves as their automobiles, we will be successful.”

Even though personal trainers will work with members seeking toning and strength conditioning training, Plunkett said he doesn’t view the new facility as competition for members of established sports clubs.

“We have free weight equipment, but I don’t think anyone is going to think of us for bodybuilding,” said Plunkett. “We want to be that comfortable place for people to become more physically fit, to offer a variety of activities as alternatives to couch sitting.”

Circling the community

Last year, Healthline’s staff of exercise physiologists and specialists made more than 25,000 personal wellness contacts within the Central Mississippi area by conducting health fairs, exercise programs and healthy cooking demonstrations, and screenings for people for problems such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Several local agencies, senior citizen centers and churches routinely partner with St. Dominic to provide health-related programming for their members.

Through the corporate wellness program, Healthline team members target common health problems and tailor educational and participative programs to address specific needs. They conduct semi-annual onsite visits to monitor progress and help companies establish employee wellness committees.

“Now we’ll be able to offer for the first time an in-facility package available to employees at a discounted rate as part of the wellness package,” said Plunkett.

The Dominican Plaza is expected to open in September.

“Our neighbors are calling us every day, asking when we’re going to be open,” said Plunkett. “We’re so thrilled there’s so much interest now from people who previously weren’t concerned about their physical activity. Now they’re saying it’s a pretty good idea.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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