After years of sitting nearly vacant on the hilltop overlooking the Health Sciences Campus, the former General Hospital is once again a center of healing.

It reopened in March as The Wellness Center at the Historic General Hospital and now houses several like-minded nonprofit organizations with the common goal of improving the health of residents in nearby communities, such as Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.

The first floor is a common space for nonprofits such as the American Diabetes Association and the Arthritis Foundation, where they offer programming such as classes in diabetes prevention and management.

In Boyle Heights, the need for a community space dedicated to well-being was clear — 33 percent of residents are overweight, 23 percent are obese, and there are high rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and hypertension among residents, according to the Los Angeles-based Alliance for a Better Community.

Keck Medicine of USC helped get The Wellness Center off the ground by funding a diabetes prevention program sponsored by the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and partnering with the Arthritis Foundation. Keck Medicine of USC also reached out to medical clinics in the neighborhood to tell area doctors about the services their patients can access through The Wellness Center.

To promote exercise and fitness, there are fitness trails, jogging paths, exercise courts and playgrounds outside. The YMCA, one of the organizations associated with the Center, offer fitness and dance classes.

Nancy Mullenaux, The Wellness Center’s executive director, noted, “There’s a lot of healthy education going on, covering everything from how to prepare healthy food to what it means to have diabetes and chronic disease.”

— Hope Hamashige