By Tricia Schug
In its first full year of operation, the Center for Health Education (CHE) in Newport, has hosted more than 7,000 people from throughout the community at more than 400 health-related classes and seminars, on topics such as diet, exercise, stress-reduction, smoking cessation and much more.
“When the center first opened in 2015, it was envisioned as a community hub for health and wellness activities – that’s really what makes our event space different from other venues in the area, our dedication to health education,” said Kathy Brier, manager of the center. The CHE is located on the campus of Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital, and many classes are led by hospital staff.
Brier says the most popular seminars this past year have been screenings for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and skin cancer. Additionally, wellness classes and Samaritan’s Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies seminars highlighting a variety of health topics also draw strong participation. Most classes and seminars are free to the public.
“I’ve been surprised at how many community members – dozens of people, really – want to share their knowledge and expertise with the community for free,” Brier said. “They want to give back by teaching others, and this space has given them an avenue to share their expertise.”
In addition to classes, seminars and support groups, the CHE also houses a free health resource area and computer bank to help interested individuals research medical information. A part-time health resource coordinator, who is also a certified wellness coach, staffs the resource area and helps with research.
The center was completed in 2015 with community donations as a project of the Pacific Communities Health District and its Foundation. The facility opened its doors in July 2015 and has been more than 50 percent occupied every month since.
Brier said her focus in this second year is to grow the number of medical conferences and trainings in the space. “We want to bring larger groups that will also benefit area hotels and restaurants,” she said. The 8,514-square foot facility with flexible meeting space can hold groups of up to 150.