RGH opens doors to wellness

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DEL NORTE – Rio Grande Hospital rolled out the red carpet on Saturday and welcomed more than 200 people to its new Wellness Center in Del Norte. The project has been in the works since 2017 and was near and dear to many who work at and support the hospital.

Attendees were greeted as they came in the door by local artist Casey McCoy who did an amazing job on the drywall mural in the main lobby of the building. The piece captured the essence of what the Wellness Center was going to be for the community, bringing to life the image that Rio Grande Hospital CEO Arlene Harms helped to make a reality for the greater Rio Grande County community and beyond.

The ribbon cutting ceremony began with a brief statement from Rio Grande Hospital Board Vice Chair and Secretary Emily Brown and Board President Tyler Off.

“This is such a wonderful event. We want to welcome you here for this really exciting ceremony. The hospital and the board has been talking about this since 2017. This is the result of concepts that Arlene had hearing about but really there was such a big community that came together to make this a reality. Rio Grande Hospital is a community hospital and the whole reason this hospital exists is to give back to the community,” said Brown.

The vision of the Wellness Center was to model health and wellness and offer another resource in the region that serves the community as a means of preventative health care.

Off was the next to speak. He focused on how the project came to be.

“I want to follow up with a little bit about Arlene’s piece in this. She has been a driving force with this even when there was some resistance from the board. We could see the vision, but not as clearly as she could. She turned this into a passion and made this her goal. It is really inspiring what it has become and where we are at today,” Off said.

Harms emulated cultures where long life has become something of a norm in places termed as Blue Zones. These locations span the globe and through the concept of preventative health, wellness and community, people who live in these areas tend to live past 100 years old.

Harms was the next to speak, stating that her vision for the Wellness Center began during a conference in 2016 when keynote speakers addressed the commonalities of Blue Zones.

“Blue Zones are rural, they have lots of community, they have a background and family is very important. I thought to myself, the Valley would be really an easy place to have something like that,” said Harms.

Harms said that through her passion and perseverance, she did not work on this project alone. Funding came from the Rio Grande Hospital Board, private donations, donations from local organizations like the Outcalt Foundation, the LOR Foundations, local banks like the Del Norte Bank and RG Bank and several other organizations and businesses.

Harms thanked all the people who worked on the project, including Owners’ Representative Joe Aldrich, Phipps Construction and Keyes and Lauer Architects, and many others who pulled together to make this a reality. The ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by refreshments and tours of the property.