Sabetha City Commission: Sabetha Hospital to operate health and wellness center

After nearly 10 years of planning and fundraising, a Sabetha Health and Wellness Center will become a reality — but under new terms and in a new location.

At the Sabetha City Commission meeting Monday, Sept. 11, commissioners approved an agreement with Sabetha Community Hospital (SCH) for a Health and Wellness Center (“Center”) to be constructed and managed by SCH using funds already raised by the Sabetha Health and Wellness Committee (SHWC).

Present at Monday’s meeting were Mayor Doug Clark, Commissioners Norm Schmitt, Nick Aberle, Maridel Wittmer and Julie Burenheide, City Administrator Doug Allen, Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer and City Clerk Steve Compo.

Commissioner Schmitt reviewed a prepared statement with commissioners citing a brief history of SHWC’s efforts and details which led to the decision to have the facility be operated by SCH.


In 2008, the SHWC was organized with the purpose of researching, promoting, securing funding and successfully operating a new fitness center.

In February 2017, select members of the SHWC board met with Schmitt (as a member of the City of Sabetha governing body), to initiate discussions on how to utilize the plan and funds to not only facilitate the building of the Health and Wellness Center, but also to ensure that it created a widespread positive impact for the entire community.

“During those discussions, it was quickly determined that as the primary focus of the facility was to provide a means for creating healthy lifestyles for the community that it would be of great benefit to solicit a partnership with the Sabetha Community Hospital as well,” Schmitt read. “The Sabetha Community Hospital Board of Directors and Administration considered and embraced this opportunity and began the research to determine the definition and feasibility of partnering and managing a Health and Wellness Center.”

Moving forward

The agreement between the City of Sabetha and SCH includes details of the location, construction and management of the facility.


• The Center will be located on the SCH facility campus at 14th Street and Oregon Street on real property that is owned by the City of Sabetha.

• SCH leases the property from the City.


• The City will own the Center and will construct the facility using funds the SHWC has already raised through donations. Funds raised by the SHWC will pay for the construction of the Center and purchase of equipment. Approximately $2.1 million of these funds will be budgeted for the construction of the Center. Allen said the Center will be designed to coincide with that amount or lower. Funds in excess of the $2.1 million will be used toward the purchase of equipment. It is hoped that additional funds also will be raised to help offset the cost of equipment.

• The SHWC has agreed to “turn those funds over” to the City of Sabetha. This will be done through a separate agreement at a later date.


• The SCH will be contracted by the City to manage, operate and maintain the Center. Details of this contract will be forthcoming in a Management Agreement.

• The SCH will manage all operations, including access to health equipment, implementation of membership programs and guidelines and implementation of health, fitness and nutrition classes.

• The City will pay SCH a management fee and during the start-up phase of the facility, shall reimburse SCH for expenses and related start-up costs until such time that the Center becomes profitable. Once profitable, the City will no longer pay a management fee. It is estimated that the Center would be profitable within two to three years. Since the Center would be constructed at or under the $2.1 million budget, there would be no debt on the physical building.

The management fee is estimated to be $10,000 per month for the first year, decreasing to $5,000 per month in subsequent years. Allen said these are high estimates and will likely be less. The start-up cost for the Center will include hiring of an employee to begin marketing the Center. This individual will be employed for roughly half a year, Allen said.

Start-up costs and the monthly management fee will be paid out of city reserve funds, Allen said.


Commissioners reviewed an income analysis and discussed profitability of the Center.

Mayor Clark said one benefit for the Center starting up would be that it does not have any debt.

“The building would be paid for. We can thank the wellness committee for that,” he said. “That’s important.”

Commissioner Wittmer said people would be more willing to donate to this because it is hospital-related rather than a private entity. Wittmer also emphasized that it would be important to hire a strong person to manage the facility — someone with appropriate knowledge in the field.

The manager would be a SCH employee, Allen said.

Schmitt said the hospital business is competitive.

“Anything you can do to keep them in your facility is great,” he said, adding that surrounding communities do not have centers like this.

Clark pointed out that adding this facility helps market Sabetha as a better option for people wanting to move to the area.

No drawings for the facility have been made at this time. Once the SCH Board signs and approves the agreement, the City will work with SHWC for the transfer of funds, followed by design plans for the Center.

Allen said the best case scenario would be that construction would begin in early spring 2018, with the Center open for business by the winter of 2018.

Also at the meeting:

Sabetha Police Chief Robert Wahwasuck presented his report and introduced new officer Brittany Springman.

Commissioners approved minutes from the Aug. 28 meeting. Also approved was a fire department application.

The next regular commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25.

Krista Wasinger71 Posts

Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.


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