HUNTERSVILLE – Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center held an open house for the hospital’s new wellness center on Dec. 17.

The center, located on the third floor of the hospital off Gilead Road, will serve as a rehabilitation and wellness center for cancer, cardiac and pulmonary patients in the region. It’s the first wellness center of its kind in the lake area.

Jan Wagoner, the manager of cardiovascular prevention for Novant Health, said the wellness center, which will host its first classes in mid-January, should be a valuable asset to the community.

The center will have exercise and fitness equipment, including treadmills, free weights, ellipticals and stationary bikes.

“We have a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of support from the physicians and the community,” Wagoner said. “They have been pushing for this for a long time. They know it’s great for the community and great for the patients. We are promoting a health and wellness message. We’re here to target patients with heart disease, lung disorders, cancer and people who are combating weight issues. It’s primary and secondary prevention.”

Mike Halterman will manage Huntersville’s wellness center. Novant Health has other wellness centers in the state, but those in the area who needed rehabilitation and help previously were forced to go to the Charlotte wellness center.

Patients joining the wellness center can expect an orientation on their first visit, with specialized workouts to follow. Each person’s progress will be tracked and their workouts will be customized personally to suit their conditions and needs, Halterman said.

It’s exactly the sort of thing Cornelius resident Allen Hilton wanted. Hilton is a lung cancer survivor. He’ll also be one of the first to participate in programs at the wellness center.

“It can benefit me by seeing other people participate in something like this,” Hilton said. “I’m very excited for it. I think there’s someone who can guide me, so I don’t have to do (the rehabilitation) myself. I’ve been an athlete all my life, so I know how important it is to have a trainer. That’s the key, that I’ll have someone telling me (to do things) and just not my ego.”

Kathi Robinson, the senior director of professional and support services for Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, said the wellness center’s presence in the Lake Norman region will be a major positive.

“It’s great for the community,” she said. “The patents in our community want to be here. They don’t want to have to go to Charlotte all the time. To have this service here is definitely going to be a benefit. It’s going to help keep them healthy.”

Only 2 percent of patients who needed that sort of specialized rehabilitation were going to Charlotte to receive help prior to the Huntersville wellness center's development.

“We really wanted to bring it here,” Robinson added. “I think it’s great that we’re continuing to be able to serve our residents in the community. That’s what our hospital is about.”