Bassett in talks to keep fitness center open

·2 min read

Mar. 10—Facing community backlash over the decision to close the fitness center in Oneonta's FoxCare Center, A.O. Fox Hospital and Bassett Healthcare Network announced Friday they have begun conversations with the Oneonta Family YMCA to explore a potential collaboration at FoxCare Fitness.

"Since the recent announcement that our health system will no longer continue operating a membership-based public fitness facility at the FoxCare Center, I have heard from many of you about how important this facility is to you and the community," Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, president and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network, said in a media release. "I am excited about this opportunity to work together with the YMCA and explore the possibility of sustaining some level of public availability to the wonderful facility at FoxCare Fitness."

According to the release, the organizations "are in the early stages of exploring opportunities to align their respective strengths and expertise to collaborate on projects and initiatives, including at the FoxCare Fitness site, that benefit the community."

"Like Bassett Healthcare Network and A.O. Fox Hospital, the Oneonta Family YMCA has been serving the community here for over 100 years," said Frank Russo, executive director of the Oneonta Family YMCA. "We are happy for this opportunity to discuss with Bassett how we might be able to work together to expand our services that promote youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility."

Bassett announced on Feb. 28 that its fitness center would close on May 31.

"Hospital and network leadership reached the decision following an extended period of declining membership and operational challenges, many of which are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic," a Feb. 28 media release said.

Ryan Scott, manager of the facility, said at the time, "A prolonged facility closure during the pandemic, unprecedented staffing challenges and diminished membership have prevented us from operating at full capacity for nearly three years. Our membership base remains less than 50 percent of what it was prior to COVID-19."

The release also cited competition from other facilities that have opened in the Oneonta area since FoxCare opened as HealthLinks 24 years ago.

The Feb 28 release said the fitness center space would become a rehabilitation facility for patients receiving outpatient physical, occupational, pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation.

In Friday's announcement of the possible partnership with YMCA, Ibrahim said, "One of Bassett's foundational strategies is to build partnerships with organizations, like the YMCA, that share our mission of improving the health and wellness of our communities. This enables us to focus on our core competency — providing high quality care to our patients."