Thibodaux Regional Medical Center is making a $73 million investment in the health and wellness of communities in Lafourche, La., and surrounding parishes with a new wellness center that will open in early 2016.

With the area’s obesity rate at 37 percent and diabetes rate just under 13 percent, along with rising healthcare costs, the leadership team at Thibodeaux Regional wanted to create a center that would help members of its community make healthy choices, improve their quality of life, and, ultimately, reduce the need for hospitalization. The project team includes WHLC Architecture (Baton Rouge, La.) and Johnson Construction (Brandon, Miss.).

The 220,000-square-foot wellness center will offer the latest technology and services in prevention, fitness, education, rehabilitation, and sports and wellness. Taking fitness a step further, the center is based on a medically integrated approach in which the unique health history and wellness needs of each member are used to create a supervised fitness program.

The center features a track, fitness room, and an aquatic center with three pools, one of which has a floor that can be raised, lowered, and tilted so that people of any age and fitness level can enjoy the pool for exercise, therapy, or rehabilitation.

Integrating clinical care and wellness, it will also include a number of areas staffed by specialists and physicians and focused on neuroscience, orthopedics, sports medicine, breast health, diabetes management, and cardiac rehab.

In addition to its focus on community wellness, the center’s design and construction incorporates environmentally friendly elements and is targeting LEED certification. For example, its regenerative elevator braking systems means that a generator attached to the elevator’s brake mechanism uses gravity to create electricity, which in turn is used to power the elevator. Other features include:

  • Solar hot water heating that will provide more than 2 percent of the building’s total annual energy cost in renewable energy, or $13,000 per year
  • Solar-powered thermal pool water heaters that will provide 60 percent of heating for the pools, and regenerative pool filters will save more than 150,000 gallons of water a year
  • Water-efficient landscape irrigation that will reduce water use by 50 percent
  • Energy performance that will save $148,114 annually
  • LED fixtures and motion sensors that will reduce lighting power consumption by 34 percent annually.

Designing and constructing the center required special consideration to protect against the frequent storms and seasonal hurricane weather in south Louisiana, as well. Special hurricane-resistant windows are being installed throughout. In addition, the building is being constructed 14 feet off the ground to avoid flooding and will also have a separate set of power and water feeds and generator sets so it can continue to operate independently in an emergency.