BY TONY HUFFMAN Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — Plans are in the works to enable the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Complex to live up to its promise of serving the community as both a fitness and wellness center.
St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital announced it will be renting a wing of the complex specifically for wellness.
Once built, the physical, occupational and speech therapy portions of St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital will relocate to an 8,000-square-foot facility within the more than 60,000-square-foot complex, said Joedy Hightower, director of the Effingham County Community Foundation, which is administering funds for the complex.
“St. Anthony’s is going to be leasing a portion of the complex,” said Hightower. “The area is going to be a self-contained facility within the complex.”
According to Hightower, the pairing makes sense because of therapy features already planned for the sports complex.
“I think this strengthens the financial situation of the whole project,” said Hightower.
Richard and Angie Workman donated $5 million for the project in October. Efforts to raise the additional money needed for the $13.5 million complex are underway and will continue through February 2014, with plans to break ground next year and open in 2015.
A fundraising committee is working to raise $3 million in capital funds, while Effingham Park District, which is overseeing the project, will issue debt certificates and borrow the remaining amount needed, according to Hightower. Park district officials have said no new taxes will be levied to build the complex. Once in operation, Virginia-based Rink Management Services Corporation will manage the facility. The company operates recreational facilities across the U.S.
St. Anthony’s also is offering a scholarship to help those who cannot afford entrance fees to the center, known as St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital Endowment for a Healthier Community.
“We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with the other community members who are involved with the sports complex,” said Annette Schnabel, executive director of Strategy and Administration for St. Anthony’s. “We have been supportive of the opportunity to work toward community wellness.”
A facility master plan of St. Anthony’s two years ago found the therapy portion of the hospital was in need of a more accessible area for ambulatory patients, said Schnabel. The planned complex would fulfill that need, as well as double the space for therapy with the proposed fitness and aquatic centers already in the complex, she added.
“Our ability to participate in this project fits in some of our vision we had for our services through the facility master plan,” she said. “This is a great community collaboration.”
Options are being considered for the 4,000 square feet that will be vacated at the hospital following the move of therapy services. Schnabel did not say what those options are at this time because they are still being considered.
Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or email@example.com.