As president and CEO of the Portneuf Health Care Foundation, Shaun Menchaca understands that many moving parts go in to helping improve the overall health of a community.
The part he hopes will get Pocatello residents moving the most is being constructed on 80 acres of land just north of the Bannock County Fairgrounds. It’s the new $10 million wellness complex, expected to open by late summer 2015. Menchaca says it will appeal to a wide variety of interests.
“The wellness complex is actually an activity-based complex for all abilities, all ages and all economic levels,” Menchaca says. “It’s not the only thing that’s going to make our community healthier, but it’s a big piece of the inventory in reaching that goal.”
The complex, which the PHCF is funding, will have seven multi-use fields; four sand volleyball courts; three basketball courts; walking and biking trails; a lake with a beach for swimming and fishing, under the direction of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game; and a 10,000-seat amphitheater for summer tours and concerts.
“There was a lot of planning (for the complex),” Menchaca says. “One of the things we did was work on a health needs assessment for the community. We took that assessment into some focus groups and married that with some national data on health, and developed this initiative around physical activity.
“Data shows that if you exercise 30 minutes a day you’re going to be healthier. It’s a pretty simple concept, but the truth is, that’s the No. 1 thing you can do for your health.”
Partnerships Prove Valuable
The Portneuf Health Care Foundation has been working on the well-being of Bannock County residents since it was founded in 2002 to support and improve health care at Portneuf Medical Center. In 2009, the organization formed a joint venture with LHP Hospital Group to own and operate the Medical Center.
One recent project was the completion of a new tennis complex in Chubbuck’s Capell Park. The PHCF partnered with the city to build eight courts within an arena suitable for holding Idaho State University tennis matches, Big Sky tournaments, adult and youth tournaments, and camps and clinics.
“We think the partnerships with cities and counties are valuable and look forward to doing more of those,” Menchaca says.
The PHCF has also implemented a wellness program with the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce in the past couple of years, primarily to get chamber members and others involved in fitness challenges. It began as a way to help small businesses encourage their employees to become more active by participating in periodic challenges that are maintained online.
The wellness program has become quite popular, says Matt Hunter, chamber president and CEO.
“Our first couple of challenges we had like 60-75 people,” he says, “and two years later we had 1,200 participating in the program. It’s done really well.”