COLUMBUS -- It’s easy see the logic behind the model – get patients involved in medical wellness moving into general wellness to form habits that will work to avoid prolonged hospital stays forced by chronic illnesses such as pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension later in life.

“We want to keep them out of the hospital,” said Doug Janssen, director of Rehabilitative Services in the Columbus Wellness Center. “It’s a model that’s been a great match for us.”

It’s been about 3 ½ years since the Wellness Center was unveiled at 3912 38th St. with an aim of becoming a bridge for patients getting therapy at Columbus Community Hospital before they transition to the Wellness Center as they move on in their general wellness care.

The $22-million facility was the result of a study calling for the community to boost patient access to address obesity, diabetes, cardiac disease and other health.

A partnership between the hospital and Columbus Family YMCA, Janssen has been on board from the beginning, was formed to offer an array of health services in one location.

The hospital provides medical wellness through outpatient rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational and speech language pathology for adults and the pediatric rehabilitation program Wiggles and Giggles Therapy for Kids.

The 46-year-old Janssen said the shift from the hospital to transitioning into therapy at the Wellness Center before shifting to shared facilities between the center and the YMCA, has been a clear-cut success.

It’s allowed a more focused multidisciplinary approach to therapy, Janssen said. 

The approach allows Wellness Center staff to work with physicians to tailor a plan for a patient’s individual rehabilitation goals.

Rehab plans have been married together at the center, Janssen said.

“We’ve seen outstanding outcomes,” said Janssen, whose wife, Janelle, is an aquatic rehab therapist at the wellness center.

The center’s pools have been a big hit.

Columbus Family YMCA didn't have a working pool at its previous location, but there are four in the new facility — a therapy, warm-water, whirl and lap pool.

The facility has been effective on the blood pressure front, he said, pointing to declining high blood cases from chronic illnesses and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Before the shift to the wellness center, the hospital’s biggest gripe from patients was over the fact that outpatient services were located on the third floor, restricting access for those with mobility issues.

“We needed front-door access,” said Janssen, adding the changes were preventative health measures and investments in future wellness.

“It was also the right thing to do,” Janssen said.

The Janssens have spent the last two decades offering rehabilitative services, but their activities have not been limited to the workplace.

They’ve been on athletic fields, road race tracks, soccer pitches and sitting in the stands watching a daughter perform for the Columbus High Discoverers at the state swim meeting.

“We’re a baseball family,” said Janssen, who has watched three sons go through the Outlaws baseball program over the years.

When he wasn’t watching his own family, he was organizing the Run, Walk and Roll runs that began about eight years ago.

The event, run in Pawnee Park on Oct. 6 this year, features runners competing in 5K (3.1 miles) and one-mile runs. Teams can also sign up for the roll portion of the fall event, which allows volunteers to sign up to compete in place of a wheelchair-bound competitor or a team of volunteers to help out a wheelchair competitor.

Janssen has found a good spot to park the proceeds from Run, Walk and Roll.

The funds from the event go to support AmTryke therapeutic tricycles, a bike designed for individuals who span the spectrum of those with disabilities.

The local race has provided funding for 35 of the unique tricycles during the past eight years, Janssen said.

The AmTrykes are noted for therapeutic benefits that include improved motor skills, strength development and self-esteem.

“I’ve heard some great stories about how the tricycles,” Janssen said with a smile.

One youngster received an adapted tricycle, rode it to school the next day and arrived to find her entire class outside to greet her, he said.


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