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Hospital Gym Closure Upsets Senior Citizens

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Jun 06 2013 08:49:09 PM CDT

450 seniors seek options to loss of Penrose Health Learning Center Gym.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The decision by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services to close a popular gym used by senior citizens has those members scrambling for other options.

The hospital's Health Learning Center Gym will close June 21.  Hospital spokesman Chris Valentine said the hospital won't renew its lease at the gym building near the intersection of Fillmore Street and Union Boulevard.

On Thursday, some of the gym's 450 members -- mostly senior citizens -- gathered at nearby Nancy Lewis Park to discuss the situation and consider options.

"Penrose didn't tell us about this until Monday," said gym member Jackie Montoya.  "They should have given us more advance notice.  We're angry, hurt and there's been a few tears.  Where do we go from here?  I worry about the people who are on oxygen, wheelchairs, canes and walkers.  We want to be heard."

Montoya said the gym has on-site medical care, a convenient location and an affordable cost.  It will be difficult, she said, to find another gym with the same offerings.

Mendy Putman of the Colorado Springs Senior Center said she and others are stepping forward to provide options for the seniors.

"Unfortunately, sequestration is really hurting the major insurance companies," said Putman.  "They don't have the resources to provide services they used to provide for free or at low cost.  It's the little guy who's getting hurt."

Putman advises the Penrose members to visit the Village at Skyline near 21st Street and Lower Gold Camp Road in west Colorado Springs.  She said that facility has most of the same services as the Penrose gym. 

Putman also suggests that seniors take part in one of 15 Silver Sneakers programs in the area that are free for people insured by United Health Care.  The programs also are available at branches of the YMCA.

Meanwhile, Penrose plans to help seniors find other options.  The hospital and Silver Sneakers will host registrations at YMCA branches next Monday and Tuesday.

Some programs offered at the Penrose gym will move to other locations.  For example, the tai chi classes and bariatric support service will relocate to the hospital.

Spine Centers, a rehab program sharing space with the gym, will move to a nearby location at 3030 North Circle Drive, Suite 217.  The center will close June 27-28 and reopen in the new location July 1.

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