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Columbus residents had a chance to make a meal with royalty Tuesday night during Columbus Community Hospital’s Cooking with the King event held at the Columbus Wellness Center.

The event provided people with the opportunity to make healthy, delicious meals with the help of a registered dietitian and CCH President and CEO Mike Hansen, who served as King Ferdinand during this year’s Columbus Days celebration. As king, he enjoyed his time, especially when he had the opportunity to eat something.

“I really have enjoyed (being King),” Hansen said. “It was a great chance to get out amongst the community members and have a good, fun time with families and friends. I got to do a lot of different judging of events, my favorite being the barbecue one, getting to eat all that good barbecue. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.”

There was no barbecue to be found on Tuesday evening, but there were plenty of nutritious meals designed with wellness in mind. Hansen said that promoting wellness is one of the key missions of CCH and providing an event like this helps to meet Columbus’ wellness needs.

“For many years, we’ve been focusing on wellness,” Hansen said. “It really starts with our Community Health Needs Assessment and what’s important in our community in terms of making people more healthy.”

Among the meals prepared included quinoa spinach salad, pesto pizza, baked fish and chips, eggplant, pistachio trifle and scones, all of which were given “royal” names to fit in with the evening's theme. More than 25 members of the community attended, including Kevin and Ileana Jarecki, each of whom expressed different feelings relating to the gathering.

Kevin, for one, was looking for a quality hunk of meat; however, this wasn't one of the food options presented. His wife, who works for CCH as a wellness coordinator in Occupational Health Services, was looking forward to eating the healthy food provided.

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“I’m a CHIP graduate through the Columbus (Community) Hospital,” Ileana Jarecki said. “I like to learn how to cook and have better recipes to continue to eat well. I made him (Kevin) do this. I like this kind of stuff.”

In addition to having fun with cooking, those in attendance had the opportunity to talk with Hansen about current and future developments at CCH, including the approximately $35 million expansion and renovation project being completed at the hospital.

“We have about 45,000 square feet of new space and about 37,000 square feet of renovated space,” Hansen said. “The major focuses will be on our operating rooms. We’ll have a new conference center, cardiac rehab area (and) simulation lab area. We’re building a brand new OB unit on the third floor, and down the road we’re looking at a 10-bed geriatric psych unit on the second floor. (There’s) lots of dominos switching places, getting people in the right place in the hospital and adding more space as we continue our growth as a regional health center.”

Future plans aside, the most important thing for people on Tuesday was simply having fun learning more about CCH and about living a healthier life through eating properly and taking care of themselves.

“One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that what we do in the hospital really impacts a person’s health only about 14 percent,” Hansen said. “The other 86 percent is what you do outside those four walls of the hospital, in terms of being active, eating healthy (and) behavior choices that you make. Those are all social determinants of health that really determine how healthy a person is overall.

“We have to get outside the four walls of our hospital and be really involved in the community and collaborate with other key stakeholders in the community to enhance wellness for our community.”

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zachary.roth@lee.net.

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Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zachary.roth@lee.net.

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