The backhoes tearing apart one former medical facility signaled an important step in Cummins Inc.’s plan to construct in its place a wellness center that will focus on employees’ total life-style care.
Demolition of the Volunteers in Medicine building in the 800 block of Jackson Street began this week. It clears the path for construction of a nearly 30,000-square-foot Cummins LiveWell Center.
Construction on the new center is expected to be complete by the end of 2015, allowing it to open in early 2016, said Dr. Dexter Shurney, Cummins’ chief medical officer.
The site is just north of Cummins’ global headquarters, where the company has been buying up property between Eighth and 11th streets and Jackson and Lindsey streets with an eye toward this project.
Axis Architecture of Indianapolis has been hired for the project, working with Cummins’ in-house architect on the center’s design, which the company intends to be unique.
“We hope it doesn’t resemble a health club or a physician’s office,” Shurney said.
A general contractor has not yet been chosen, Shurney said; and construction costs for the LiveWell Center are not ready for public release, company spokesman Jon Mills said.
Shurney said the company’s vision for the LiveWell Center “is to make health and well-being a part of everything we do.”
Cummins’ investment is “to help employees live healthier and fuller lives at home, work and in their communities,” he added.
That means offering support to their physical, emotional and financial health, including Employee Assistance Program services.
The center will be available to all 8,500 of the company’s Indiana employees — 7,600 of whom work in Bartholomew County — plus their spouses and children over age 2, Mills said. Cummins has offices and manufacturing operations in Columbus, Seymour and Indianapolis.
“While employees and their families will not be required to utilize the services at this time, we are designing a center that we believe employees will want to come to) improve their health and well-being,” Shurney said.
Where patients go for service is determined by their health coverage, Shurney said. Cummins has not made any changes to its existing health plan coverage because of the center, so essentially the two are unrelated, he said.
The services available to company employees and their families would be part of their insurance benefits, but employees would have to pay part of the cost for their visits to the center, Shurney said.
The Cummins Occupational Health Center on Central Avenue will continue to be operational after the Cummins LiveWell Center opens in 2016. In the near-term, the center will provide treatment for acute illnesses, health examinations and preventive and immediate care, in addition to occupational health services. Once the LiveWell Center opens, the center will focus exclusively on providing occupational health services for employees, Mills said.
Vowing to be different, the design and operation of the new center will be focused on the patient, Shurney said. That starts with the amount of time and resources devoted to employees, Mills and Shurney said.
Appointments are expected to last 45 minutes to an hour, Shurney said. The way doctors will be compensated, they won’t need to churn through patients quickly, taking more time to understand patients’ issues, he said.
“We’re going to get to the root of the problem,” Shurney said. “Most of these issues are preventable.”
During an appointment, patients also might meet with other health care professionals, such as health coaches and nutritionists, and participate in classes that deal with healthy lifestyles and chronic illnesses, Shurney said.
Health and lifestyle coaching, cooking classes and demonstrations will play important roles in the wellness center, just like primary and specialty care services, Shurney said.
“Cummins has benchmarked best practices with leading firms and partnered with top health-care companies to develop this initiative,” said Shurney, who will serve as administrator of the LiveWell Center and be joined by some Cummins employees in the operation.
Cummins will contract with physicians groups and specialists to provide services.
Shurney said the company wants to make employees aware of the cost and quality of their health care, but Mills said cost savings is not what’s driving the project.
“This is about employees, quality of life and well-being,” Mills said.
If the center works well here, more could be opened in other cities where Cummins has operations, Shurney said.