Ozarks Healthcare opens Employee Wellness Center in West Plains

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:44 PM CDT
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - When Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, Mo., surveyed its 1500 employees to find out what the hospital could do to improve the workplace, the overwhelming response a fitness center. They have one, about a block from the hospital.

“It’s been a really, really stressful year for everyone, especially those in healthcare--especially my team,” said Brook Keeling, RN, who manages the critical care unit at the hospital. “I was so excited to go back and tell them that we have this awesome resource for them to use.”

Jay Woodring, anesthesiologist, echoed her sentiment.

“If it’s not going to cost you anything, and you can come and work out in a safe area, and do the things you need to do, and the close proximity to the hospital kind of helps out,” he said.

Woodring added that having access to a free gym also helps when recruiting employees. The hospital is in the process of a large expansion project, adding more than 100,000 square feet of new space and hiring a lot of new staff.

The CEO and president of Ozarks Healthcare, Tom Keller, said he fully supported the idea of opening a fitness center for staff.

“Maybe you just work out for a half hour, or just to get away from the rush and the busy-ness of the hospital,” said Keller.

The employee wellness center is more than a place to exercise, it’s also a place for them to socialize. Lindsey Thompson, a physician recruiter, is taking full advantage of the center. Thompson said it helps to have a support group.

“I actually have a group of coworkers that we meet down here every day at noon just to kind of hold each other accountable,” said Thompson.

“Everybody can exercise, according to physical therapist Theresa Speake. “Yes, we’ve all had injuries and things that maybe have caused why we haven’t gotten into exercise, but there’s always things we can do to get past that and get healthy.”

Larry Grisham is a bio-medical technician suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He plans to spend at least three days a week at the center. “Well it just helps my Parkinson’s,” he said.

“If you have health issues, or even if you don’t, it’s preventative maintenance, you might say.”

Employees who want to use the Wellness Center have keycards that give them access all hours of the day and night, so no matter what shift they work, they can still make it to the gym.

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