Metro-East News

Going to this new O’Fallon therapy center will feel like a trip to the gym

McKendree MetroRec Plex partners with St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Tom Dibadj, director of therapy services at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, outlines plans for a new therapy center at the McKendree MetroRecPlex in O'Fallon.
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Tom Dibadj, director of therapy services at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, outlines plans for a new therapy center at the McKendree MetroRecPlex in O'Fallon.

The folks who want you to stay healthy have joined forces with the folks who want you to get well.

Owners of McKendree MetroRecPlex in O’Fallon are building a two-story, 11,000-square-foot addition. The first floor will house a 5,500-square-foot therapy center operated by St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

“Promoting a healthy lifestyle and physical activity go hand in hand with what therapists do,” said Tom Dibadj, the hospital’s director of therapy services.

The new center will offer physical and occupational therapy to adults and children, ranging from stroke victims to injured athletes and people suffering from chronic pain.

Some patients will benefit from easy access to the MetroRecPlex’s 10-lane championship pool and recreational swimming pool.

“The recreational pool has six lanes,” said owner Dean Oelze. “It’s perfect for water aerobics and physical therapy.”

The MetroRecPlex is a 160,000-square-foot complex that opened last year as part of a 40-acre development off U.S. 50. It houses two NHL-sized ice rinks, a fitness center, weight room, cardio deck with a 1/16-mile walking track, a half-court gym, space for exercise classes and a child-care center.

Construction on the addition is expected to be completed early next year. The second floor, above the therapy center, will expand the MetroRecPlex.

“We’ll be utilizing that for group fitness classes and individual workout areas,” Oelze said, noting there will also be space for business gatherings and conference meetings.

St. Elizabeth’s had four therapy centers — including one in the O’Fallon Medical Building on Green Mount Road — before opening its new hospital in November. It put a fifth center in a new outpatient building next to the hospital.

But that meant St. Elizabeth’s had two therapy centers in the same neighborhood. Officials began looking for another location and formed a partnership with the MetroRecPlex, which has similar goals.

“It really fits our business model, which is health and fitness,” Oelze said.

St. Elizabeth’s will close its therapy center in the O’Fallon Medical Building but continue to rent the space for physician offices. Its two therapy centers in Belleville and one in Mascoutah will remain open.

Dibadj thinks some patients will like getting physical therapy at a recreation complex instead of a hospital.

“It’s not institutional,” he said. “The feel will be more like a gym instead of an institution. And it’s all about convenience. If you’ve got someone (at the MetroRecPlex) working out, they can go next door and get their therapy.”

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