The place where thousands of Cummins Inc. employees and their dependents will go for most of their health care looks nothing like a typical medical facility.

Much of the LiveWell Center’s design and decor gives the impression of an art gallery. The smells emanating from the teaching kitchen could cause one to mistake part of it for a restaurant.

The LiveWell Center, located at 806 Jackson St. in Columbus, also doesn’t look like other Cummins buildings. The iconic block “C” logo is nowhere to be found.

The result reflects the Fortune 200 company’s attempt to focus on employees’ health and well being by offering medical services, preventative care, lifestyle coaching and other programs, said Dr. Dexter Shurney, Cummins chief medical director and executive director of global health and wellness.

“We want to offer the most comprehensive care we can under a single roof, and incorporate the lifestyle approach to care. It gets to the root cause of chronic conditions,” Shurney said, noting that illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are tied to lifestyle and diet choices.

The LiveWell Center, just blocks north of the company’s global headquarters and near other Cummins offices downtown, will officially open June 28. It will be available to about 9,500 Cummins employees statewide and their dependents — a combined total of about 17,000 people, said Jon Mills, director of external communications for the global diesel engine maker.

Charting a course

The center has been more than four years in the making, as the first meetings about creating such a facility began in December 2011. “We were just looking at the health situation of our employees and looking to improve upon it,” said Shurney, who will oversee the center.

Construction of the 28,000-square-foot building started in October 2014 and use of the LiveWell Center began in May with training for staff.

Employee feedback about what they wanted in a medical facility was factored into the design and details, Shurney said.

“They told us they didn’t like the smell of medical facilities,” he said, for example.

Employees who participated in focus groups also said they didn’t want to feel like they were at work either, said Blair West, Cummins director of corporate communications.

Artwork adorning the walls is a mixture of pieces by central Indiana artists and national artists, said Katie Zarich, Cummins manager of external communications.

Shurney said the LiveWell Center is set up to make a patient’s visit as convenient as possible. That starts, he said, when a host greeting a patient upon arrival, then taking them to a care suite or consultation room and begin entering personal information electronically into a computer tablet. The idea is to avoid waiting rooms, long waits and making patients fill out a lot of forms.

Cost of visits reflect flat fees, with payments collected onsite. For example, a basic exam costs $30, even if lab and radiology work are required.

Shurney said initial feedback is that employees like the bundled billing.

Services available

The LiveWell Center is intended to handle a range of situations, from primary care to urgent care for minor injuries. An area called a medical bullpen, where doctors and nurses work, features five exam rooms and three care suites. The care suites include a private restroom, exam area and consultation area. Lab work that doesn’t require a pathologist can be performed at the center, and vaccinations needed for traveling abroad can be administered there, Shurney said.

Two vision exam rooms and one for hearing are among the center’s features. The telemedicine room allows staff to set up one-on-one video consultations with specialists from medical centers across the country, and can help Cummins employees from other countries contact their doctors back in their homeland, Shurney said.

A lifestyle bullpen is where employees will meet lifestyle coaches and receive behavioral health services.

An occupational health area includes three exam rooms for people who have been injured while at work. It is located next to room that can handle small procedures such as making a cast for a broken leg, skin biopsies or removing warts and moles, Shurney said.

The LiveWell Center also includes a physical therapy space with treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, weights and a physiologist on staff, to aid occupational health and primary care patients, Shurney said.

Another area of the center features one room for both massage therapy and acupuncture, and two for chiropractic treatment.

Healthier menus

The teaching kitchen is intended as a resource to help employees learn about the role nutrition plays in their health, Shurney said. Chef Sandy Thomas will lead a variety of classes that focus on plant-based whole foods, including practical tips to make healthy food taste good at home, she said.

Shurney said that some people who have switched to a plant-based whole foods diet have seen their cholesterol levels drop by 60 percent in seven weeks.

“That’s more powerful than a pill,” he said.

Employees can make appointments with Thomas for one-on-one instruction on cooking, for example, or be part of a 30-minute demonstration as a class, she said.

About a half dozen tables in the kitchen are designed so employees can do food preparation and cook on them during classes.

Shurney said employees have begun receiving tours of the LiveWell Center and it’s generating a lot of buzz and excitement.

“They can’t believe a center this nice is close to them,” Shurney said.

Shurney added that the Harley Davidson motorcycle company is among those that have expressed interest in seeing the LiveWell Center, and an assistant with the U.S. surgeon general’s office is planning a visit.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.