Wellness center to open

Christina Cocca

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>>>CORRECTION: The Wellness Center will be located where the former CSUN fitness center was near the Games Room not below the Grand Salon and Sunny Days camp is located below the USU computer lab in Activities rooms 1, 2,3 not below the Grand Salon.

The University Student Union board of directors approved the construction of a new on-campus “wellness center” that is scheduled to begin during the Spring 2013 semester.

The board met Oct. 22 to discuss the costs and planning of the proposed center, which will be located in the former fitness center near the Games room.

Debra Hammond, executive director of the USU, said the union looked at survey data over the last year and found that students’ academic performances have been affected by sleep deprivation and lack of stress management.

“We feel this facility could address all of that, and our job is to give students tools to manage stress better,” Hammond said. “This will be set up for students to really relax and rejuvenate and get centered and balanced before they go back into the classroom or work environment.”

Since the wellness center was only approved for planning, all services and budgets are currently tentative. The USU has a placeholder of $2 million for the 2013 and 2014 budgets until they are quoted specific numbers from an architect in January.

The $2 million budget includes costs like construction, landscaping and fixtures and would be spent before the opening of the center, according to Joe Illuminate, the associate director of USU finance and business services.

“We do a financial plan and project about six or seven years from the current year to make sure we are on top of our finances and in line with long-term goals,” Illuminate said. “(The wellness center) is being financed with our cash on hand, so we are not borrowing money. It will be paid for with cash.”

The budget includes a possible elevator installation, an item that was discussed during the October board meeting.

“The stairwell there now is inefficient and cannot accommodate what we want for the center,” Hammond said of the possible elevator. “Plus, the railing for the ramp we have is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.”

Hammond added the redesigning of the current ramp and stairwell will involve “a lot of excavation,” and if an elevator is less expensive, the USU will do what is most cost effective.

The services that may be offered at the wellness center include guided meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and even sleep pods where students can take short naps, Hammond said.

Although the services that will be offered at the wellness center have not been finalized, the overlapping of services offered at the Klotz Health Center to the new wellness center is likely, according to Marianne Link, associate director of health promotion at the Klotz Health Center and USU board member.  She said it is possible that some services will be offered at both centers.

“In either case, the result will be no loss of services for students,” Link said. “In fact, if the wellness center has extended hours, it is possible that the current level of some services might be increased.”

Link added the services would include what the students “want and need to increase health and wellness, reduce stress and achieve academic goals.”

Hammond does not expect the wellness center to open until May 2014.