“Lee Health” — it’s fresh branding for a healthcare system in the midst of a makeover.
The formerly named Lee Memorial Healthcare System long has had a presence in Estero, but it’s never been so visible as within the last year. As the Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point celebrates its one-year anniversary, Lee Health prepares to break ground on a $140 million health and wellness facility to be known as Lee Health Coconut Point.
While healthcare wasn’t an obvious fit for Fashion Drive, the Healthy Life Center has proven popular. More than 7,500 people visited the center during its first 12 months of operation, participating in everything from surgeon lectures to line dancing.
While the center serves as a referral point for Lee Health physicians, it’s far from a sterile environment. On Mondays, the large multipurpose room is filled with yoga mats; Tuesdays bring a workout for “Babes and Babies.”
The entryway is filled with the soothing scent of lavender, promoting the center’s foray into retail with DoTerra essential oils. Monthly cooking demos offer ideas for healthy eating, including an upcoming program on cooking with essential oils.
Initial program offerings focused on managing diseases and screening for health problems, but guests began asking for more integrative medicine, says Healthy Life Center Manager Molly Grubbs. While physician lectures are well attended, yoga classes also pack the house, necessitating a waiting list every Monday.
Tai Chi and dancing are other ways retirees are endeavoring to stay active. Charlotte Hofer credits the Healthy Life Center with helping her identify and treat balance issues. After getting dizzy during a ballroom dancing class, she decided to do one of the center’s free balance screenings. Now she is following an integrative treatment plan and enjoying a line dancing series.
“I go to a lot of classes here,” Hofer says. “I love to dance; I don’t care what kind of dance it is.”
Choreographed dance is not only good for the body but excellent for the brain, adds dance instructor Annie Lamp. Frequent dancing makes the Top 10 list of ways to ward off dementia.
The center offers programs for the body, mind and spirit. New programs this month include Prayer Doodling and Guided Meditation, facilitated by Sleep Medicine Dr. Jose Colon. A Healthy Book Club also kicks off this month with “The Blood Sugar Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman.
When Lee Health Coconut Point opens in Fall 2018, the Healthy Life Center will be a focal point, gaining outdoor spaces for yoga on the lawn and holistic treatment rooms for massage or acupuncture. The part Grubbs is most eagerly awaiting is the new demonstration kitchen. It will be fully equipped with video capabilities so all guests can see as the chef prepares a healthy dish for sampling.
The new facility also will include an Emergency Department, which will be capable of treating the most common medical emergencies, keeping patients closer to home. A Continuum Care Unit would allow patients to stay an additional 24 hours for observation or recovery from surgeries in the outpatient surgery center.
Many Lee Health physicians will have a presence at the Coconut Point facility, eliminating travel to see specialists. Additionally, state-of-the-art teleconferencing equipment will allow remote video consultations for treating patients in the emergency room.
“We are building quite a robust technology base that will enable us to keep people close to home and not have to transfer unless it is warranted clinically,” explains Project Manager Suzanne Bradach.
Accident and injury patients will further benefit from both indoor and outdoor rehabilitation facilities. This means injured golfers can work on getting back their golf swings.
Estero residents long have been demanding better access to healthcare in South Lee County. The design of the new 163,500-square-foot facility is the product of more than a decade of collaboration.
“We’ve worked with the Estero community for years,” Bradach says.
A joint South Lee County Hospital Committee brought representatives from Estero, Bonita Springs and Lee Health together to lobby for better access to healthcare. Disappointment settled in when the state denied an application for a new hospital, but out of that disappoint, innovation was birthed. The new planned facility focuses more on health, wellness and healing, rather than in-patient care, Bradach noted.
“It’s a one-stop shopping concept there,” says Don Eslick, a member of the Hospital Committee and longtime chairman of the Estero Council of Community Leaders. “I predict it will be terrifically successful in helping satisfy the needs of the community.”
Eslick expects “old timers like me” to effectively support Lee Health Coconut Point and prove to the state that Phase Two should be licensed, potentially adding 80 beds to the facility in the future.
“I think it’s going to be a really outstanding facility,” Eslick adds. “We’ve been able to team up all these years, and we’ve finally got something to show for it.”
HEART REPORT CARD
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point is hosting a “Heart Report Card.” This is a noninvasive screening program designed to identify those who may not have symptoms but could be at risk for heart disease.
Last February, a heart screening at the Healthy Life Center saved a life, reports Manager Molly Grubbs. Testing indicated a blockage, and the patient was admitted for emergency surgery that day.
Anyone interested in receiving a Heart Report Card on Feb. 14 should call the center to make an appointment between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.: (239)424-1499.