April 17, 2024


Health is important

WVU Medicine announces partnership, individuals voice concerns | Journal-news

MARTINSBURG — Officials have announced a WVU Medicine Berkeley Medical Center and Onelife Fitness partnership aimed to offer expanded fitness and wellness services locally.

The announcement was first sent via a letter to wellness center members — signed by Dean Thomas, President and CEO of WVU Hospitals East — and confirmed by Teresa McCabe, Vice President Marketing & Development.

Following that letter, community members are fighting to keep the doors of the Wellness Center open. Started on Saturday, the “Fighting for The Wellness Center” Facebook group has gained 205 members.

According to a news release, as part of the partnership, Berkeley Medical Center will transition its current fitness services offered at the Dorothy McCormack Center to the Onelife Fitness sports club on Eagle School Road, planned to take effect Oct. 1.

“…We have significant needs to add to the depth and breadth of our medical services so that our community doesn’t need to leave the area to access the best patient care,” the letter to members said. “Of course, like every business, we also have a finite set of resources to work with to be able to bring these additional medical services to our community.

“Additionally, we have analyzed our fitness center and determined that the size and scope of it is too small to effectively compete with other fitness offerings in our community. We do not have the space on our medical office building to accommodate the range of fitness equipment, classes and technology to be on par with competing fitness centers nor are we able to match the lower fee structures of many of our competitors.”

With this transition, WVU Medicine said it will then focus on expanding health promotion and health screening events on the hospital campus and onsite at Onelife Fitness.

“WVU Medicine has a proud history of supporting community wellness initiatives, and we will continue to be a leader for wellness services,” Thomas said in the press release. “After analyzing the size and scope of our current fitness center, we realized we couldn’t compete with other fitness offerings in our community. That’s when we made the decision to partner with a proven fitness organization in our community to provide these services going forward.”

According to Thomas, this new partnership will also allow WVU Medicine to expand outpatient therapy services onsite at Onelife Fitness and continue to support strong continuity of care for patients recovering from injuries.

“Onelife Fitness is thrilled to be partnering with the leading healthcare system in the area,” Ori Gorfine, President and Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Fitness Holdings LLC, said in the press release. “We found a partner equally committed to the community and its residents, and together, we will provide an unparalleled holistic approach to fitness, health and wellness.”

Gorfine added that in addition to their sports clubs in Winchester, Virginia.; Hagerstown, Maryland; and throughout the Washington, D.C. region, Onelife Fitness has plans to develop a new 55,000-square-foot facility in Martinsburg with details to be announced soon.

The Facebook group’s administrator, Vanessa Bishop, 26, of Martinsburg, is a four-time brain cancer survivor and is asking officials to reconsider.

“The Wellness Center has been one of the factors as to why I am still here; why I am even able to write this email,” Bishop said in an email to officials. “… I actually was discharged from physical therapy … because of how much time I spent at the gym.”

Unfortunately, her cancer has left Bishop unable to drive, and she said the Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority goes to the hospital.

“Closing the Wellness Center neglects this idea completely,” Bishop said.

Finally, Bishop said she considers the center’s staff as family.

“To one, it may not seem like a big deal at all, but to me, it means so much more,” her letter said. “As a four-time brain cancer survivor and someone adapting to a disabled lifestyle daily because of my brain surgery, I feel as if I should be an advocate for the other members and the incredible workers, as well as stand up for what I believe in.”

The Facebook group asks others to voice their opinions by calling and or emailing Albert Wright, President and CEO of WVU Health Systems and Thomas.

According to the letter to members, officials plan to schedule a town hall style meeting at the Health and Sciences Center Auditorium on the Berkeley Medical Center campus sometime this month to provide a Q&A opportunity as well as to allow OneLife to present their plans for the new facility.