LACONIA — Lakes Region General Hospital is ending its affiliation with its two wellness centers as the hospital prepares to merge with another health care organization, Dick DeVivo, co-chair of the advisory board for the Community Wellness Center in Laconia, said Thursday.
The other facility is the Winnipesaukee Wellness Center in Moultonborough.
The Laconia center, which serves about 200 people, will remain open as the advisory board sets up a non-profit organization to run it, obtains liability insurance, rehires staff, finds its own suppliers and arranges to maintain athletic equipment.
DeVivo said he learned of the changes in a meeting with hospital officials last week. He said he was not told the name of any organization with which LRGH may be planning to partner.
Hospital Vice President Cass Walker confirmed the changes.
"As LRGHealthcare continues to actively seek partnership, Kevin Donovan met with the Community Wellness Center in Laconia and the Winnipesaukee Wellness Center in Moultonborough to discuss future planning and has encouraged them to form their own independent organizations," she said.
"These Wellness programs provide a vital and rich array of services to their communities. LRGHealthcare has been proud to be part of these partnerships."
DeVivo said the $55 monthly fees paid by members will allow the center to continue to operate.
The center has cardiovascular machines, stationary bicycles and free weights. An emergency medical technician is on hand. Among those served by the center are people who are exercising on doctor’s recommendations.
A sign outside the Community Wellness Center, 22 Strafford St., bills it as a “Department of Lakes Region General Hospital.”
The LRGH website describes the wellness centers in Laconia and Moultonborough.
“Fitness programs are tailored to the individual needs and capabilities of people with chronic disabilities, or those whose doctors feel could benefit from a supervised exercise program,” it states. “Staffed by registered nurses and exercise specialists, our number one priority is helping our members to maintain and improve their health and quality of life.”
DeVivo said the Laconia center was founded 20 years ago and has operated at various locations.
For more than a year, LRGH has been seeking a merger with a larger health care system to remedy financial problems stemming from its heavy debt load and the payment difficulties affecting community hospitals nationwide.