Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – The MCH’s Bond Wellness Center will not reopen as a gym

The board of directors of the Monadnock Community Hospital announced Thursday that the fitness space at the Bond Wellness Center will not reopen and will continue to be used exclusively for physiotherapy and rehabilitation services.

The fitness area at the Bond Wellness Center, which makes up about 25% of the building, has remained closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although the state of New Hampshire has authorized the fitness centers in shape to reopen last June according to specific directives.

The shutdown was in response to the pandemic and under the direction of CDC guidelines for hospital operations. As of March of last year, the fitness floor and exercise studio at the Bond Wellness Center have been used for physiotherapy and rehabilitation appointments only to provide adequate social distancing and meet the needs of hospitalized patients.

“We understand that this will disappoint our members and the community and it is certainly understandable that they will be disappointed,” said Mike Shea, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Monadnock Community Hospital. “No one wants to be in a position to have to make this kind of difficult decision. But it is something that we believe is necessary.

Conversations about reopening the Bond Wellness Center were ongoing across the board, Shea said, and it had come to a point where “a response was due,” he said.

“There’s been a long period of time, it just couldn’t be factored in,” Shea said. But in recent months, those conversations have taken on more seriousness, as more questions have come from members seeking answers to what the future holds for the facility.

“We really owed the whole community a response,” Shea said.

Alan Edelkind from Dublin has been a member since the wellness center opened in 2000 and served on the Membership Advisory Board for a few years. Over the months, Edelkind had resigned himself to the fact that the fitness center would not reopen.

“It was planned,” he said. “We knew over the months that this was the way it was going to be. As it progressed you knew the chances of it opening were getting less and less.

Edelkind said he believes the gymnasium’s closure is doing the members a disservice, many of whom are seniors who use the facility to stay physically active.

“They had everything they needed for an older population. It really doesn’t give the elderly any option, ”said Edelkind. “Not only was it good for them physically, but also emotionally.”

The pandemic has highlighted the already limited health care resources in New Hampshire and the country, Shea said, but the main reason for the decision was to require more space for the growing need for therapy services, now and in the future. the future.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the resources of Monadnock Community Hospital to best meet emerging community health care needs, one of which is the increased demand for physical and medical rehabilitation programs,” said Shea.

Many different reopening scenarios were discussed, Shea said, including a hybrid model that would allow members of the fitness center to schedule times when the area was not in use for physiotherapy and rehabilitation services and to allow social distancing.

“But it just wasn’t really practical,” he said. Shea added that they looked at a number of different sites to see if moving the fitness center off site was an option. “None of them were adequate enough to meet the needs of our members,” said Shea.

While other fitness centers have resumed normal operations, facilities run by hospitals are subject to stricter guidelines from the CDC, said McGuire, which still includes the use of masks and social distancing.

One factor that played into the decision not to reopen the fitness space was the increased demand for physiotherapy and rehabilitation services.

“Statistics have shown over the past eight to 10 years we’ve had a 62 percent increase in demand for these services,” McGuire said. The change of operation, McGuire said, now allows the hospital to better respond to those demands. “And right now we are considering expanding some of our medical rehabilitation services. The Bond Wellness Center is also home to Monadnock Behavioral Health Services, Monadnock Orthopedic Associates, Monadnock Family Care, Oncology and Infusion Therapy Center, and Physical and Medical Rehabilitation Department, and includes physiotherapy. , occupational therapy, speech therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, and diabetic rehabilitation.

McGuire said challenges in finding staff also need to be considered.

“We have a real manpower shortage right now and being able to focus on our clinical services is the most important thing,” she said. She added that the majority of the staff at Bond Wellness Center were absorbed into other positions.

Built and opened in 2000, the wellness center was renamed in 2006 in recognition of Edward L. Bond Jr.’s $ 1 million donation to the Monadnock Community Hospital endowment fund. For over 20 years, it has not only been a fitness center for staff and members, but a place to come together and socialize. McGuire said there were between 1,300 and 1,600 members of the Bond Wellness Center.

“People are very connected to it,” McGuire said. “When you’ve had something around you for so long, the people in the community are definitely passionate about it. “

And the decision did not come without taking this factor into account.

“With growing needs and the pandemic, we had to make a difficult decision,” McGuire said.

Mason Bliss of Peterborough, who took out a one-year subscription just a month before COVID-19 forced its shutdown, said it was disappointing, but at the same time, it’s the responsible thing to do.

“It’s unfortunate because I loved using the pool,” said Bliss. “It’s a real loss that won’t come back, but I think they are making the responsible decision.”

Laura Gingras, vice president, Philanthropy and Community Relations Monadnock Community Hospital, said she understands the disappointment that accompanies the announcement.

“Some people are very upset, but there has been a lot of support,” she said. “We recognize the personal loss this represents for our members. “

The company that ran the Bond Wellness Center, Blue Oak Wellness, was “ready and able to move forward,” McGuire said, and the decision had nothing to do with running the facility.

For members with questions or concerns, email [email protected] or call (603) 924-1762.

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