Guilford County government is adding a new service to the county-owned BB&T building at 201 W. Market St. in downtown Greensboro – however, unlike the Register of Deeds office in that same building, the new service will be meant for Guilford County employees.

The county is building a new Wellness Center and exercise facility there in an attempt to improve the health of its roughly 2,300 employees.

The county has also established a new position – wellness coordinator – to oversee the office. One hope is that, by investing in the Wellness Center, the county will save some of the money it now spends on employee health care.

Guilford County is getting about $300,000 in “wellness incentive money” from United Healthcare, it’s health care provider, that will help cover the cost of the center. The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has approved for $150,000 to be used to cover construction costs of the Wellness Center and about $55,000 to be used for salary and benefits of the Wellness Coordinator.

The remaining $95,000 of the $300,000 will be used to purchase exercise equipment for the center.

Guilford County – which self-funds much of its employee health care insurance costs – has been seeking ways to reduce the amount it spends on employee health care. Ever since Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing was hired as the county manager seven years ago, he’s been a strong advocate of the county taking more proactive steps to keep employees healthy – and keep them at work rather than at the hospital or doctor’s office.

The new Wellness Center will take steps to promote healthy eating, exercise and other beneficial lifestyle choices among employees. In addition to providing a convenient place to work out, the center will help employees quit smoking and address minor medical ailments, perhaps saving them a visit to a doctor’s office.