NEOMED’s NEW Center serves as population health model

Opened September 2014, the NEW Center at Northeast Ohio Medical University is way more than a modernized student union.

It is a state-of-the-art health and wellness hub with a fitness center, physicians’ offices, a pharmacy, and conference and event space – designed purposely to “develop programs for the whole community,” according to Dr. John Boltri, professor and chair of the department of family and community medicine at NEOMED.

“By community, I mean NEOMED employees and students, as well as the (residents) of Rootstown and surrounding communities,” said Boltri, who also is managing director for the facility’s fitness center, Sequoia Wellness.

Boltri joined fellow NEW Center collaborators in a panel discussion, moderated by Monica Robins of WKYC, about the university’s new health care hub and what it means to the future of integrated care.

The medical wellness model has evolved over the last 20 years from merely “fitness facilities that health care organizations would have their name on” to “a platform for whole community wellness,” explained Jim Ellis, executive vice president and managing director of Integrated Wellness Partners. His company manages the operations at Sequoia Wellness.

The NEW Center “does have fitness components to it, but it is so much more,” Ellis said. “It is really about taking this 360-degree view of someone’s health.”

That approach has transformed NEOMED’s relationship in the community. At Sequoia Wellness alone, 1,500 community members, not affiliated with NEOMED, are regular gym users, Ellis said. Even more come to educational programs about health topics, many of which are free.

The center’s experts also go out to schools to teach children how to take control of their well-being, and the center hosts a Bio-Med Science Academy for high school students and recently launched a free clinic run by its graduate students.

Another recent addition is the Pharmacy of the Future, a joint venture between regional retailer Ritzman Pharmacy and NEOMED. Dr. Richard Kasmer, vice dean and professor of pharmacy practice at NEOMED said the on-site pharmacy features an open design so that customers can interact with pharmacists – who, by the way, are not trapped behind a counter – patient counseling rooms and a “tech bar” where consumers get advice and guidance on health care technologies and digital apps.

“It’s all designed for easy access, for the pharmacist to be approachable, to be asked questions at any time,” said Dr. Beth Husted, general manager of pharmacy services for Ritzman Pharmacy.

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