New community wellness center in Gentilly offers cooking, fitness classes

A new health and wellness center run by AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, a health plan serving almost 50,000 Medicaid members in the New Orleans area, opened Monday (Oct. 29) in the Gentilly Shopping Center at 3155 Gentilly Blvd.

The center will provide community resources such as a mobile cooktop for cooking demonstrations, nutritional workshops, fitness classes and one-on-one consultation for AmeriHealth members who want to incorporate a new exercise regimen or need nutritional advice.

This is the second wellness center the plan has opened in Louisiana. The other center opened in Shreveport over the summer. Both locations were chosen because of the large health disparities reported in the zip codes where the centers are located. Both locations have significantly higher rates of diabetes compare to neighboring areas, according to Kyle Viator, the market president for AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana.

“We wanted to invest in a program that tries to be culturally relevant in addressing the needs of our population,” he said. “Here we will be able to teach people how to cook healthier and build exercise into part of their routine.”

Additionally, a Medicaid eligibility worker will be embedded at the center so that people can come in to apply or renew their Medicaid coverage.

The center will be staffed by social workers and a community educator who will be teaching classes. Viator said that AmeriHealth Caritas is also partnering with other local health providers to offer HIV testing and health screenings.

“Our staff will be available here to meet with people in person to talk about their health plans and to coordinate their search for providers,” Viator said.

The AmeriHealth Caritas Community Wellness Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and the first Saturday of each month. For more information, call 1-888-756-0004.

Maria Clark writes about immigration, health, doctors, patients and health care in Louisiana for NOLA.com | The Times Picayune. Reach her at mclark@nola.com. Or follow her on Twitter at @MariaPClark1 .

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