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Power Wellness U

Finding new pathways to healthy living and learning in Methuen
University Business, January 2018

Our discovery of new pathways to healthy living and learning begins in Methuen, Massachusetts, a city with a proud heritage in industrial manufacturing. Today, Methuen – with affordable housing, quality healthcare, an aspiring public school system, and youth athletic activities – is an increasingly attractive gateway from Greater Boston to the south and the White Mountains to the north.

In response to a groundswell of support for creating a new Youth Athletics and Recreation Center, we observed the use of athletics as a powerful avenue to student engagement and academic success. Through a series of focus groups, field interviews, and polling surveys, we learned that athletics, recreation, nutrition, and food play an increasingly significant role in healthy living, learning, and cognitive development for students. Indeed, we discovered that students are fascinated by all things food – including culinary arts, sustainable farm-to-table agriculture, and no surprise, watching foodie shows.

Over the course of a year, conversations developed between the Methuen Athletic Improvement Committee, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Methuen Public Schools, and the local medical center – Holy Family Hospital. These conversations led to a common focus on wellness, fitness, healthy living, nutrition, and learning, which extend across inter-generational demographics to include seniors as well.

At the same time, the City of Methuen was exploring new economic development initiatives focused on sustainable agriculture, food systems, and vertical farming – having had discussions with organizations including the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). Like other exurban communities, Methuen’s agricultural profile covers the full range of sustainable agricultural goods and services, including those provided by local produce farms, greenhouses, orchards, and vineyards.

This topical thread around food, nutrition, and agriculture led to a broader conversation about a possible community-based, co-utilized health, wellness, fitness, nutrition, athletics, and recreation center. As currently conceived, this new Center would serve the full spectrum of healthy living and learning opportunities for students, faculty, families, patients, and the larger Methuen Community.

From the Hospital’s perspective, the Center will keep the larger Methuen Community ahead of chronic disease by providing public health education, prevention, screening, and significantly, medically integrated strategies for recovery, rehabilitation, wellness, fitness, and well-being.

Our next stage of investigation focused on hospital-based, medically-integrated health, wellness, and fitness center operators – guided by a philosophy and the best practice of optimizing human performance and well-being. This part of our journey took us to the Loyola Center for Fitness, located on the Loyola University Medical Center campus in Maywood, Illinois. This 62,000 square foot state-of-the-art wellness and fitness club offers a broad range of health and wellness amenities and services. This Center, which is certified by the Medical Fitness Association, focuses on calibrating outcomes-based human performance – providing members with a planned, data-driven program for recovery, rehabilitation, fitness, and wellness.

What we learned at the Loyola Center for Fitness was that this Center is operated by Power Wellness, a global leader in the design, construction, and operation of medically integrated fitness, recreation, and athletic centers across the United States – with one center in Japan.

After touring the Loyola Center for Fitness, Craig Jesiolowski, President of Holy Family Hospital put it this way:

“Having firsthand experience seeing their operation at the Loyola Center for Fitness, I was very impressed with the coordinated approach to health and wellness and the outcomes for staff and students – they obviously have a wonderful reputation in greater Chicago.”

Healthy nutrition is important to Power Wellness, as seen through healthy food choices, juice bars, and significantly, through nutritional counseling with registered dietitians. Importantly, Power Wellness serves Holy Family Hospital and the larger Methuen Community as the ideal operating partner to support the development of a community-based, co-utilized health, wellness, fitness, nutrition, athletics, and recreation center in Methuen.

Methuen Athletic Improvement Committee President and incoming Methuen City Councilor Steve Saba indicated:

“It will be a wonderful day for the larger Methuen Community to see this critically needed facility, centrally located to the Hospital and the Methuen Public Schools. There is currently no Community Center of this kind in Methuen.”

Kevin Manchester, RN, BSN, Director of Employee Experience at the University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, shared this perspective:

“Since partnering with Power Wellness, we’ve been able to offer our members medically integrated programs supported by degreed and certified staff. Their energy and encouragement is vital to the improvement we’ve seen in our population’s health.”

As fundamental changes occur within our nation’s healthcare system, Ken Gorman, Founder and CEO of Power Wellness, put it best this way:

“Our country’s healthcare and higher education systems are undergoing a fundamental change in response to challenging financial and outcomes pressures. Creating an affordable healthcare environment, like an affordable higher educational environment, are critical priorities as a nation. Our old models in each environment must be restructured under a “fee for value” versus a “fee for volume” strategy. Within the healthcare environment, that means a focus on chronic disease prevention and population health management. New payor models, long-term corporate wellness focus, general population fitness adoption, and integrated consumer-friendly technologies are the change agents to address chronic disease management. With 30 wellness centers and 2,500 wellness team members nationwide, Power Wellness is helping healthcare systems, universities, and community foundations proactively address these challenges.”

—James Martin and James E. Samels are authors of Consolidating Colleges and Merging Universities (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.) and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.