Saline Memorial Hospital was founded in 1955. The one-story facility was adequate at the time and fit the small town of Benton with a population of just more than 7,000 residents. Now more than 60 years later, the hospital has grown to a six-story modern facility with two medical towers. The focus on quality patient care has continued across the decades.
An active lifestyle is one of the most important methods of staying healthy, and Saline Memorial Hospital and the Saline Memorial Health Foundation have found a unique way to add that to the many offerings the facility has for local residents – a Wellness Park is in the works on the hospital grounds.
Matt Brumley is director of the Foundation, which works with various individuals, businesses and organizations to reach the group’s mission – “Connecting compassion, service and generosity for the health of our community.”
Mr. Brumley expects the concept of the Wellness Park and the location for it to address two key issues.
“Time and time again we would receive reports of people not realizing there was a hospital located behind the brush and overgrowth located at the foot of the hill (Medical Park Drive and the South Service Road),” he said. “We know that Saline Memorial Hospital is vital to the success and growth of our community and we want our visitors and residents to be able to visualize this wonderful facility. We did not want to stop there. We then had a topographic feasibility study completed to see what we might be able to accomplish in regards to constructing a Wellness Park.”
The park will include green space, park benches, water features, wildflower areas, evergreen trees and a one-mile walking track that will surround the Saline Memorial Hospital campus. “We felt this would be an incredible enhancement to the area.” says Brumley.
While the Foundation board and SMH leadership have wanted to dress up the area for quite some time, the hospital did not own all of the land that will be improved. When the land was purchased by the hospital, the Health Foundation identified a real opportunity to provide support in funding the Wellness Park and made a decision to do so in early 2016.
The foundation has received donations specifically designated for the Wellness Park. Additional funding will come from foundation activities.
According to Brumley, “We will use portions of our annual fundraisers, like The Beat Goes On 5K in February to help with funding. We will also have naming rights throughout the walking trail and park area.”
Phase one of the project, which includes clearing out overgrowth and underbrush, grading the terrain, and stabilizing the soil will be completed the first week of June. The foundation is hopeful that there will not be a delay in successive phases. However, continuous construction is dependent on available funds.
Brumley envisions the Wellness Park as a particular benefit to people who spend a great deal of time with a loved one in the hospital when a nice outdoor environment might help.
“Many of our patient’s families and co-workers will have a place to get outside, relax, and refresh. We can have healthy living programs such as ‘Walk with a Doc.’ These programs will allow participants to gain information about conditions such as diabetes, cardiac care, weight loss, bariatric treatment, and many other relevant health topics.”
Brumley is proud of the hospital and feels this new Wellness Park is a concept which matches perfectly with the growth that Benton is experiencing and will continue to see for years to come. “There are over 160,000 vehicles each day that pass by Saline Memorial Hospital on Interstate 30 each day. A driver’s view of the hospital is almost completely obstructed. We hope by opening up this view, we make the perception and beauty of our community even stronger.”