Palos Health and Fitness informs members of plans to close

Palos Health and Fitness

The Palos Health and Fitness Center, 15430 West Ave., in Orland Park will be closed on May 1, its director and Palos Community Hospital Vice President of Community relations Tim Brosnan informed members in a letter this week.

           

             Stunned members reacted this week to Palos Health and Fitness Center’s announcement that it will close on May 1 to make way for a medical office building.

            A letter to fitness center members dated Jan. 15 signed by both the fitness center’s director and Palos Community Hospital’s vice president of planning and community relations informed them of the planned shutdown of Palos Health and Fitness, 15430 West Ave. Members can still use the facility until April 30.

            The decision is part of the hospital’s “recently announced plans to redevelop and expand its south campus in Orland Park to include a new medical office building and enhanced diagnostic and treatment services,” the letter states.

Palos Health and Fitness opened amid great fanfare more than 15 years ago as a start-of-the-art fitness adjunct to Palos Community Hospital, just south of the hospital’s Primary Care Center.

            The fitness center is marketed as the only medically-integrated fitness center in Orland Park and the surrounding area, “offering our members a dynamic alternative to fitness and health maintenance.”

In addition to cardio workout and weights equipment, an indoor track, sauna, steamrooms, whirlpool, spa and exercise classes, the 78,000 sq. ft. facility contains an indoor aquatic area that offers both a large lap pool of several lanes and smaller warm-water therapy pool.

The warm-water therapy pool will be sorely missed by seniors, those recovering from injuries and others who use it.

“It is devastating news, not just for myself but for many other members who depend upon the warm water therapy pool to help them in their daily functioning,” said James Prendergast, of Palos Heights. “No other health club on the South Side has a warm water pool.”

Not since the sudden closing of Palos Bank and Trust after the housing market crash has the loss of a beloved institution here caused such shock and sadness among loyal customers as the prospect of losing Palos Health and Fitness.

“This was more than just a run-of-the-mill health club: This place represented community to many people and will be sorely missed,” said John Fleming, MS, DVM, whose Prairie State veterinary clinic is located only blocks away from the fitness center he regularly visits for workouts and healthy meals in its Bella Café.

“They [will have] paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” Fleming said of the planned demolition.

Member Carol Trzcinski, who takes her elderly mother to swim in the therapy pool, was also struck by the news. “What a shame, this is such beautiful facility,” she said. “There’s no other facility that even comes close in quality.” 

A statement issued by Palos Community Hospital (PCH) on Monday said: “The difficult decision to close the fitness center is part of our work to identify and prioritize areas and services where we can make the most impact in delivering quality health care to the Southwest Suburbs... We have also made arrangements for current members to transfer their membership to nearby fitness centers.”

The letter to members suggests they may transfer their Palos Health and Fitness memberships to either the village of Orland Park Sportsplex, which has no indoor swimming pool, or the Moraine Valley Community College Health, Fitness and Recreation Center. Another option close by is the privately owned Riviera Sports Center & Health Club in Orland Park.

The closing of the fitness center comes as a result of our plans to the redevelop our Orland Park site,” the PCH statement continued. “The project will include the construction of a new medical office building and enhanced diagnostic and treatment services, while incorporating new access points, improved wayfinding and expanded parking.  This was a difficult decision and one made after a thorough consideration of Palos’ role in meeting the broader health care needs of the community through improving access to quality medical care.”

            Prendergast hopes Palos Health Fitness and its therapy pool can somehow be saved. “Warm water therapy is vital for those suffering from arthritis, dystonia, fibromyalgia, spinal disorders, and surgical procedures of the back and knee,” he said. “The warm water therapeutic pool has given me and others a wonderful gift, a chance to live life more independently.  It has allowed us to ease our physical pain, improve our mental and emotional well-being, and connect with others. This is the goal of any health facility, to improve the lives of those it serves.”  

“Where are all us who depend upon the warm water therapeutic pool going to go now?” Prendergast asked. “On behalf of all those who use the warm water therapy pool, please try to help us.”

Trzcinski, too, further lamented losing the fitness center’s unique therapy pool, noting her mother, now 82, benefits significantly from using it during the five years she has been a member. “This is the only facility in the area that offers a therapy pool for people with arthritis and those recovering from joint replacement and other ailments. Exercise in the water is the only relief she gets. Over the years I have not only seen many seniors using the facility, but many disabled as well. They have outstanding trainers that are also physical therapists that are there to help. She even worked with a personal trainer to help strengthen her core. Palos Fitness center has helped her maintain some quality of life. I don’t know where we will go from here. Needless to say it is quite upsetting to her and our family”

It is ironic to Trzcinski that the fitness center boasted that it had earned medical fitness facility certification a year ago February, named such by the Medical Fitness Association, “the country’s leading organization dedicated solely to medically integrated wellness and fitness facilities.” “This certification is a significant step forward in providing for the health of the entire community and to the individuals taking responsibility for their personal healthcare.” Palos Health and Fitness Center Director Erik Carpenter is quoted as saying on the center’s website.

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