Friday, July 11, 2014

Dan Moser Column: Cape Coral Hospital’s Pathway Project lights the way for other public centers

What if there was a health-care facility that the public looked forward to visiting? Granted, many hospitals have fitness centers that attract well people, or at least those seeking wellness. Indeed, Lee Memorial Health System’s Wellness Centers are among those and are equipped with treadmills so there’s nothing unusual for people to expect to be able to take a run or walk when at one of the two health system’s fitness centers. But something one might not expect — an outdoor pathway network that’s intended to attract the public and serve patients undergoing physical and occupational therapy — is coming to at least one campus and perhaps all of them eventually. Baptist Hospital in Miami’s Kendall area has a walking/ running path that is an example of this concept, and one that attracts many daily users.
A while back, Lee Memorial published in an announcement of its optimal healing environment model that will be integrated into Cape Coral Hospital. For anyone who is familiar with the campus, it’s pretty much a sea of asphalt wherever buildings don’t exist. Creating an environment where people woct will actually want to go to enjoy a walk or run will be both a challenge and welcome improvement. It will also connect to Cape Coral’s vast cycling (and to ssome cc degree, pedestrian) network. You can find a map of the network at
The OHE concept goes well beyond adding shaded paths in and around the property. According to Scott Kashman, the chief administrative officer of Cape Coral Hospital as well as the person in charge of this project, the pathway will include many elements. There will be an outside space for physical and occupational therapy and walking pathways leading to the hospital pond and connecting to a new healing garden by the women’s care area and the central hospital courtyard. The .2-mile walking path around the pond and approximately .5-mile loop for the initial phase will include exercise stations, benches and additional trees to provide shade. Future phases will expand walking trails around the campus.
Then there’s the nutrition element. Lee Memorial will be seeking to collaborate with the school district and others to utilize an American Heart Association teaching garden where young and old can learn about nutrition and maintain the garden. The pathway will connect with the recently updated Wellness Center cafe, now serving Ada’s homemade meals. Another path will lead to the main hospital where healthier alternatives, including a large salad bar, smoothies made fresh from the salad bar and grass-fed bison burgers are already available.
Some indoor renovations related to Pathways have already begun, with the outdoor element groundbreaking happening in late August. The public will be invited for tours when the first phase is completed in the fall. To learn more about Pathways, which has many more elements, contact Christin Collins at or 343-6062.
Advocacy update
Since the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, there’s been an effort to get law enforcement agencies more involved, one of the key goals of the plan. To that end, the Florida Highway Patrol, Lee County Sheriff ’s Office and the city of Fort Myers Police Department have stepped up. As I wrote in earlier columns, there’s always a possibility of enforcement operations that focus on one class of people — vulnerable road users in this case — actually creating other problems for those same people. However, I’m pleased to report that based on my involvement with some of the operations and from what I’ve learned about others, enforcement officials have been fair in their handling of both motorists and vulnerable road users who are breaking laws or otherwise behaving dangerously. Still, I believe our enforcement personnel can use more and better training when it comes to traffic law specific to bicycles, pedestrians and non-traditional vehicles (i.e., golf carts, gas-powered scooters, etc.).
More bike/ped-focused enforcement operations are planned for Lee County over the next weeks and months with partnering organizations frequently out with them to offer educational and awareness information to the public. Assuming the operations remain evenhanded there’s good reason to believe these efforts will result in a reduction in crashes, injuries and fatalities that involve pedestrians and cyclists, which is exactly what the Bike/Ped Safety Action Plan envisions and what those of us who work toward that goal are fully in support of. For more about these enforcement operations and other bike/ped matters you’ll find what you’re looking for at BikeWalkLee’s blog (
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways. ¦
— Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted and 334- 6417.

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