Huey P. Long Field House

A Volvo excavator sits Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 at the Huey P. Long Field House that is currently under renovation on Field House Drive on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.

Ochsner Medical Center provided LSU with $4 million to create a wellness center inside the Huey P. Long Field House as part of the roughly $30 million restoration of the building that began last year. 

The wellness center will provide new learning opportunities for students in the College of Human Sciences and Education by offering access to exercise equipment, physical and mental health services. 

“The gift from Ochsner, not only did it enable us to bring the whole wellness center into fruition, but it also sort of serves as a cornerstone for a bigger partnership with Ochsner,” said CHSE Assistant Dean Chad Gothreaux. 

LSU’s Kinesiology department will have a dedicated space to teach classes involving weight training and exercise once the wellness center is established, instead of using the UREC to complete those classes. 

Ochsner is partnered with LSU Shreveport, where the public-private partnership offers medical care to North Louisiana residents. The wellness center expansion represents a larger effort by Ochsner to get Louisiana into the top 40 states for health, called the Healthy State by 2030 Initiative.

Louisiana has long ranked toward the bottom of state rankings regarding the health of its residents. The United Health Foundation ranked Louisiana 49th last year and U.S. News and World Report’s annual state rankings have consistently placed the state in the bottom five in health care access and affordability, health care quality and health outcomes for citizens.

Louisiana’s adult obesity rate is 38%, the fourth highest in the country, and the state has one of the highest cancer mortality rates. 

Healthcare professionals hope the wellness center will be a step forward in improving health in the state.

“I think health’s the center of all of it,” said Tre Nelson, director of economic development and community initiatives for Ochsner. “How could you be expected to go do 60 hours at your job a week, manage your family, help your kids, fix your car window because a rock hit it on the interstate, and do all of these things that happen in day-to-day life when you can hardly get out of bed in the morning because your bones are aching so bad.”

CHSE plans to host events and networking opportunities at the wellness center for students interested in internships in the healthcare industry. 

“What’s unique about the wellness center is that it provides an opportunity for LSU to bring forward its faculty, staff and students; research and education, and to partner with a really significant industry...to try to improve quality of life for everybody,” said LSU Foundation Assistant Vice President Sara Whittaker.

Renovations to the Field House started in January 2021 and the partnership with Ochsner has been ongoing for some time. When the renovations are complete the CHSE will move from its current location in Peabody Hall into the Field House.

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