Area residents will see a new facility pop up behind the Columbus Wellness Center as Columbus Community Hospital is officially moving forward with building a $34 million field house.
The Columbus Community Hospital (CCH) Board of Directors voted to proceed with the project at a special meeting Monday.
“It’s a little different in that it’s going to provide great opportunities for a lot of different indoor activities for our community. It’s something that will enable them to do that throughout the wintertime,” CCH President and CEO Michael Hansen said.
“In Nebraska, we have some pretty severe and long winters, and there really isn’t a lot of places that have those kind of activities for the community, and so we wanted to make sure we provide that. The field house is really a good concept to do that.”
Current plans for the approximate 200,000 square foot facility include two basketball courts, a regulation-size soccer field, a regulation-size football field, racket sports and an area for children’s activities.
The Wellness Center, managed and operated by CCH, will be connected to the field house.
“By adding two basketball courts at the field house, it will allow basketball tournaments to utilize all four courts. It’ll be important to have connectivity between both buildings and good access and parking," Hansen said, noting the two basketball courts in the Wellness Center will be adjacent to the two basketball courts in the new facility.
The field house will have space to host volleyball games, and, on the second level, a suspended running and walking track.
The Columbus Family YMCA, 3912 38th St., leases space in the Wellness Center. The Y has an indoor track, but it's limited to a path around weightlifting and cardio equipment.
“The track in the Y is very small; you have to walk around it a bunch of times to get a mile in. With the field house, the track will go around the whole circumference of the field house,” Hansen noted. “The one that’s currently in the Y, we will get rid of that one, and that will enable the Y to expand their workout area.”
The Y will remain in the Wellness Center. CCH has three outpatient rehabilitation therapies - Premier Physical Therapy at Center 30 Mall and two in the Wellness Center - that will be affected by the change.
“Our outpatient rehab therapies will be reconfigured at both the Columbus Wellness Center and the field house to provide better access to the aquatic therapies and improve efficiencies," Hansen said.
Columbus Family YMCA CEO Corey Briggs said the organization is “excited to see what happens.”
“It’s going to be a great benefit to our members and our community,” he said.
Hansen said the hospital’s next step will be selecting an architect for the field house.
“…Then we will start the process of engaging a general contractor and get all of the key stakeholders involved in the design and development (of) the project,” he said. “That’s something that’s been very important to me over the years… I feel you get a better project, a better product, when you involve the end-users of that space.”
According to Hansen, the goal has been improving wellness in the Columbus community.
Hansen said it began in 2012 with CCH’s community health needs assessment, which is done every three years.
“It tells us what some of the health care issues are in our community and what people need," he said. "So we had to think, ‘Well, how do we operationalize that? What kind of brick-and-mortar project do we build to address wellness issues? Those issues include obesity, mental health, engaging people in physical activity and better nutrition.’”
The Wellness Center, which is 6-years-old, was the first phase of this initiative. At that time, the Y had been in a building that started falling apart, and the organization moved into the CCH facility.
“It’s been a good symbiotic relationship because when people are injured and are seeing us for medical reasons (for) their therapy and progression. They get to the point (of) medical improvement then they can get over to the Y side for their continuing wellness,” Hansen said.
The next phase will offer more opportunities for residents to improve their health, CCH Board Chairman Brett Bonwell said.
“The success of the Columbus Wellness Center showed us that community members of all ages want to be physically active, and if we provide recreation and wellness opportunities, community members will use them,” Bonwell said, in a provided statement. “We believe the field house is the natural extension of the wellness opportunities we already offer and we’re happy to bring it to the community.”
CCH is shooting for a groundbreaking this fall. The field house project will take about 12 to 18 months to complete.
“We want to get people physically active, we want to get people mentally in a good place, we want to work on their nutrition…” Hansen said. “We want to help all aspects of wellness for our community.”
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.