MALTA -- Saratoga Hospital and the Saratoga Regional YMCA have begun the short move across Route 9 to their new shared facility on Malta Park Drive.
The two organizations have opposite wings of the same building with a shared atrium entrance and the same mission: physical wellness. The hospital will offer sports medicine, physical therapy and occupational therapy in its side of the building; the YMCA will offer its standard mix of self-directed and instructor-led fitness programs for members, as well as day care for members’ and non-members’ children.
There’s a potential continuum under one roof from injury and infirmity to health and fitness, and the two organizations will be working with each other to help make it happen.
“It’s a natural partnership that can benefit both organizations,” said Saratoga Hospital CEO Angelo Calbone. He said it’s the first complementary partnership of this kind for the hospital. “In the broad context of partnerships, we do a lot of that,” he said. “This is a bit unique for us.”
Saratoga Regional YMCA CEO Andrew Bobbitt said the partnership is a new concept for his organization but not for YMCAs nationwide. “I know of maybe 12,” he said.
In fact, he’ll soon be visiting a new facility in Boise, Idaho, that was recently opened by a YMCA and no less than five local partners.
Bobbitt said the Malta project provides “a natural transition, physically, within the same building, and a convenience factor” to patients who have completed their physical therapy and want to continue exercising, as well as to YMCA members who have developed problems that would benefit from physical therapy.
The project stands at Northway Exit 12 near Malta Med Urgent Care, itself a joint venture of Saratoga Hospital and Albany Medical Center, which are affiliated.
Bobbitt said the Y’s portion of the new building measures 35,000 square feet, cost approximately $5 million, and replaces two leased spaces in Malta Commons, one for fitness and one for day care. The new fitness center opened last week, the new day care center will open in two weeks.
Calbone said the hospital’s portion of the new building measures 20,000 square feet and will cost $2.1 million to build plus $1.9 million to equip. Completion for the first floor is targeted for September, at which point the hospital will move its Regional Therapy Center out of leased space in Malta Commons. The second floor on its side of the building will be left unfinished for future use.
The degree to which services and facilities are shared has yet to be finalized. The hospital will have a 12-by-24-foot therapy pool that would be an ideal place for very young YMCA members to learn to swim, for example. Or the YMCA branch might offer a special rate to patients at the next-door facility to keep them active as they complete their therapy. The large kitchen on the first floor of the YMCA side might be the site of healthy-cooking classes run by the hospital.
Bobbitt said the new fitness center opened at 5 a.m. June 18 and has since gained more than 40 new members; the old fitness center had 1,115 memberships totaling 2,023 people. These are not, for the most part, hardcore athletes trying to reach their pinnacle in a single sport.
“The vast majority of the market is folks who are trying to maintain their health, improve their health,” he said. As such, they would likely want physical therapy if injuries sidelined them.
The one potential sticking point is the regulatory differences between a medical facility and a gym, such as federal privacy laws for patients, which might constrain YMCA use of hospital space.
Calbone said some hospitals have opened their own health clubs, but Saratoga Hospital never entertained the idea, preferring instead to collaborate with an organization that has experience with them.
“We think the Y does a superb job at this,” he said. “We’d rather do it with them than duplicate it.”
Down the road, Calbone expects the hospital will find a use for the unfinished second floor, as well. “We always need more space than we have around here,” he said.