AUTHOR: MARTY

HED: Amory hospital seeks OK to build fitness center

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

AMORY - Gilmore Memorial Hospital is seeking state approval to construct a 16,600-square-foot fitness and wellness center on its Amory campus.

The hospital has applied for a certificate of need from the state Department of Health to build the new facility. State law requires health-care facilities to show a need for such new construction.

Robert Letson, Gilmore's administrator, said he expects the permitting process to take about two months. If approved, the new facility could be ready for use by next spring, he said.

"We have a fitness facility but it's only 5,000 square feet and there is no way to expand it," Letson said of an existing area located in the hospital's medical office building, which has been in use since 1993. "We wanted to add some additional programs, but the only way to do that is to build a new facility. We feel like it will be a good thing for the community. They'll be able to exercise year-round."

If approved, the new fitness center would include expanded areas for aerobics classes, weight training, aerobic fitness equipment and cardiac rehabilitation. New to the hospital would be a 25-yard indoor swimming pool, a hydrotherapy pool, an outdoor volleyball court and a half-court basketball area.

As with the existing facility, a membership would be required to use the proposed new fitness center, although Letson said no fees had been established.

"We haven't made a final decision on that but we'll make sure it's competitive," he said.

If the certificate of need is approved in about two months, Letson said construction adjacent to the main hospital would take about 10 months.

"We're shooting for this time next year," he said of the opening of the new facility.

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