When Harrisburg Medical Center President and CEO Vince Ashley died in a motorcycle crash in August he and Vice President Rodney Smith were trying to make a dream for the staff come true.
“It started around Aug. 1. It was one of the last things Vince and I were working on together and I thought it was important that we finish it,” Smith, current President and CEO, said.
Tuesday the Vince Ashley Employee Fitness Center opened on Sloan Street to the delight of nurses and other hospital staff.
“When he was killed we were just cleaning it out. It was a garage,” Smith said.
For some time the staff had been asking for a place on the hospital campus where they could work out. The hospital has had a fitness incentive program in place that awards $100 per quarter to any staff who exercises twice a week. Now they can exercise before or after a shift or any other time free of charge. The center will be open to staff and their spouses 24 hours a day with a lock all staff can open.
“They’ve asked us for year for a place to exercise, but we never had a good spot to do it. We looked around the campus and ran across a garage,” Smith said.
The hospital’s maintenance staff cleaned it out, drywalled it, finished it, carpeted it and hung televisions people can watch as they run on an apparatus, work with weights or do aerobics routines.
The hospital’s own physical therapists are available to show people how to use the equipment.
Hanging on one wall was to have been a large glass rendering in honor of Ashley, but it met a sad fate when it was discovered fallen to the ground smashed to pieces. Smith said it was undetermined if the portrait would be replaced.
Licensed Practical Nurse Linda Reed Tuesday tried out an apparatus under the direction of HMC Rehab Director Jeff Thomas and said — though she lives in Cave-In-Rock and typically begins the long drive home after work — she would like to make use of the center.
“I think its nice. We’ve been wanting one a long time,” Reed said.
“I used to go to a fitness center when I was younger, but it’s been a while.”