University Wellness Center Downtown and University Wellness Center Northeast, both in Jackson, will close effective April 1, University of Mississippi Medical Center administrators announced Thursday.
The action comes as Mississippi’s only academic medical center copes with unanticipated cuts in patient care reimbursement and other budget reductions.
Medical Center leadership announced February 22 that departments and units across campus must identify ways to reduce expenses and/or increase revenue by a net $24 million by June 30.
“We regret having to close these locations but our need to improve our finances leaves us little choice,” said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of UMMC’s health system. “We are attempting to minimize impacts on employees and members through this transition.”
For fiscal 2017, the two Jackson centers are projected to lose a combined $400,000. The northeast Jackson center is owned by UMMC; the downtown facility is leased.
A combined 36 staff members at the two centers will remain on the job through March 31 and can apply for openings at the three remaining University Wellness Centers in Madison, Brandon and off Lakeland Drive in Flowood. The Flowood location is the largest of the three and used by the most members. Employees work for Power Wellness, the company that manages the centers for UMMC.
Membership in the centers won’t change. Those using the two Jackson locations, located at 100 E. Capitol St. and 46 Northtown Drive, will continue to have full access to the other three centers.
Both the Northeast and Lakeland Drive locations are in need of substantial capital improvements to bring them up to the standards UMMC requires for the centers’ mission of supporting the health-care continuum, recognizing that adequate exercise and proper nutrition are cornerstones of good health and disease prevention.
Those improvements would cost between $6 million-$7 million per facility. Instead, funds generated from the eventual sale of the Northeast center will go toward a significant remodeling of the Lakeland Drive location. Short-term improvements will include moving almost 50 pieces of new, state-of-the-art cardio equipment there from the downtown facility.