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COLUMBIA – A new addition to the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia aims to help patients get on a healthy lifestyle track.

The new Patient Education Center, which rests between the main building and the new parking garage, will provide space for a variety of health programs that educate veterans on living healthy.

Stephen Gaither, the hospital’s public affairs officer, says these programs accomplish a variety of tasks that help to create a healthy and fulfilling life for veteran patients.

“Examples include weight reduction, healthy living style, smoking cessation. Just really making an effort to have a better life style and we provide training, teaching and reinforcement for the veterans that we serve,” Gaither said.

Joe Hinkebein, a psychiatrist, said these programs help patients move beyond worrying about just sickness. They help patients become stakeholders in their own health.

“Not just am I sick or am I well, but am I able to do the kind of things that are important to me in my life or is my health getting in the way. So helping veterans to also understand that by managing their health they also improve their quality of life and their ability to participate in the things they enjoy doing in their lives,” Hinkebein added.

While these programs are not new to the hospital, they have struggled to find space to be effective. The new center aims to fix that problem.

“We’ve helped a lot of veterans quit tobacco each year. We’ve helped patients lose 50-100 pounds through our weight management programs and more importantly keep it off. So it’s nice to really have a state of the art facility in which to provide those services. I think it will enhance the provision of that education, but I think it will also enhance the experience for our veterans,” Hinkebein said.

The open house runs from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is open to the general public. Those who come will get to see the new space and learn about the programs that will be available to both inpatients and outpatients.