Chattanooga eyes health, workout facility

Chattanooga eyes health, workout facility

May 14th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Chattanooga plans to build a 19,000-square-foot, $3.5 million health care and wellness facility at the site of the old Chattanooga Gas Co. property next to the Farmers Market site on 11th Street.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said the new facility will serve employees better than the city's two existing health and wellness centers.

"Right now, we have a triple-wide trailer and an old service station," Littlefield said.

The employee wellness center at 274 E. 10th St., the site of a former service station, includes a medical clinic, pharmacy and fitness center. The center on Amnicola Highway is housed in a trailer and only has a medical clinic.

City Council members are expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution to include $200,000 for the building design in the 2012 budget. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

The existing employee health centers will be closed once the new facility is built. City officials said they hope the new center will be built by fall 2012 and equipped in another year.

The new center will include a drive-through pharmacy and will have space for two doctors and a physician's assistant, officials said. Littlefield said the center also could offer expanded wellness programs.

The mayor's chief of staff, Dan Johnson, said significant savings from the city's redesigned health care plan will help pay for the building. He said an internal audit report from two years ago showed city health care costs have risen only by single digits compared to double-digit increases universally.

"At that time, our costs were about $3 million less than they should have been," he said.

Littlefield said the new center will be more attractive and convenient for employees. And parking will be ample at the former Farmers Market site and other nearby locations.

Littlefield's spokesman, Richard Beeland, said the new center should be well-used because the current clinics are overbooked.

"Every city employee will use this facility," Beeland said.