By: Lyndsie Ferrell
Posted Jul 3, 2023
DEL NORTE — People from all over the San Luis Valley gathered in a construction site just west of the Rio Grande Hospital campus for a groundbreaking ceremony hosted by the hospital to celebrate the beginning of construction for their new wellness center and blue zone.
Rio Grande Hospital CEO Arlene Harms welcomed everyone and began the ceremony with a speech thanking all who made this venture possible for the community. The project began prior to 2020 and just as it was getting off the ground, the hospital along with the entire country was shut down due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“Literally one day we were meeting with the planning committee and then the next, we were closing the hospital because of COVID,” said Harms. “This is on the cutting edge. There is not another hospital out there doing this yet. We are the first.”
Harms introduced Rio Grande Hospital Board Vice Chairwoman Emily Brown, who played an integral role in helping see this project come to fruition.
“This is pretty exciting, I think it was 2018, 2019, before COVID that there was a beginning discussion with a large group of people and our community about what something like this could look like. It’s amazing to be at this stage where we are breaking ground,” said Brown.
Brown added, “The wellness center was something that came out of multiple needs. Both the need that made sure that people came for treatments or doctors that were here for short times had places to stay and also a place that would inspire the community towards wellness. Having that space where our staff and community can come together for health.”
Harms said that during the two years before COVID they were in the midst of interviewing the community, gathering information on what the community would want to see in a wellness center/
“Over the two-year span, we talked to students from the school, businesses, people from other organizations and we talked about what this would look like,” Harms said.
Harms said that through the many hours of planning, the new wellness center will not only promote health in the community and longevity to life, but it will also offer a safe place for people to heal, live and work.
“As hospitals, we have to move away from just treating the sick and work toward keeping people out of the hospital and out of the clinics and making it about being well,” she said.
The new wellness center is expected to be finished by 2024 and will be comprised of a community center where people can host meetings, meet for coffee or utilize resources offered by the center.
“It will be an intersection with our employees who can take their breaks there, there will be games, books and computers to use and also the other thing we want to do, is help our families that have members in the hospital. If they need the computer, they can,” said Harms.
The center will also house a teaching kitchen so that families can come to learn how to cook healthy meals, a greenhouse and herb garden, an educational room, meditation room, access to the nearby trails and hiking, and much more.
For more information, visit the hospital’s website at www.riograndehospital.org and attend Keeping the Dream Alive to learn more about the hospital and its projects.
Harms added she appreciates the board, staff, and the community for their continuing support of the hospital and its services.
“We know this will benefit the Valley and anyone who visits our beautiful area,” she said.