The COVID-19 pandemic opened eyes to new processes and flexibility in healthcare or,as Dr. Khalid Abbed says, “opportunities to do things better.”

Dr. Abbed, co-physician-in-chief for the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute, said one of the things people can see through the struggles of the pandemic are how integrated the mind and body is, and how one can impact the other.

“COVID-19 showed us how fragile life is and put a magnifying glass on the disparities in access. We see how that if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer,” he said.

Part of his new duties at the Ayer Neuroscience Institute is to head the Spine Wellness Center being built in Westport. He said the facility and its services address the whole person, not just the pain in the neck or back.

“We’re building a Wellness Center to improve your quality of life, help you eat better, sleep better, calm your mind and emotions. It’s a place you’ll go not just when you’re in pain,” Dr. Abbed said. “As we develop in the community we realized we are that community.”

Hartford HealthCare is piloting the concept in Fairfield County, but Dr. Abbed said he envisions other locations across the state. With telehealth capabilities, he added that there would be no geographic limits to the care that can be rendered.

“Preventative medicine is the key. We hope to help the community rise up and live our best lives,” he said.

The Spine Wellness Center – which will offer comprehensive medical and surgical care for spine ailments, as well as a full array of integrative therapies and mental health counseling – is expected to open in late August.