At long last, Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center is about to open

The lap pool at the new Adirondack Health Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center is seen Monday. The new medical center also features a weight room and exercise studio for yoga and cycling. (Enterprise photo— Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — Adirondack Health’s long-awaited Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center is set to open its doors and start seeing physical therapy patients by Wednesday.

The whole facility will open in stages as services are moved from the old Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid, once known as Placid Memorial Hospital. The new facility will soon open its emergency department, radiology center, offices for the Lake Placid Sports Medicine private practice and a pool and exercise area open to patients as well as anyone who pays for membership. (Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said all these services would open at the new facility next week.)

The center’s exercise facilities include a wide variety of machines and weights. The monthly rate for an individual is $59 a month after an initiation fee, but there will be couple and family rates, as well as need-based scholarships.

Adirondack Health CEO Sylvia Getman said the new facility is in line with a larger trend in medicine toward combining medical, wellness and preventative care. She said she hopes one day a doctor might be able to prescribe laps in a pool.

“That’s the kind of the dream,” Getman said. “Your health becomes part of medical care in a different way. So that’s really the story we’re trying to tell. It’s not just about health care — it’s about health: getting you there and keeping you there.”

Adirondack Health CEO Sylvia Getman explains the trauma center at the new Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center Monday during a tour. (Enterprise staff — Griffin Kelly)

While the center is licensed as a hospital, it’s really an outpatient facility, according to Getman.

“I think the challenge with that is people thinking people are in here overnight, which doesn’t happen,” Getman said.

The medical center had been expected to open at the start of November 2018, but it was delayed because of construction requirements. A new state Department of Health-mandated stair tower still needs to be built onto the back side of the building, connecting the second floor to a ground-floor fire exit before the second floor can be opened.

The new center is at 203 Old Military Road in the same lot as the Elderwood of Uihlein nursing home — leased from Adirondack Health — and across the street from the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The current AMC-Lake Placid is behind the training center on Church Street.

The dental and sleep lab facilities at AMC-Lake Placid will not move to the new facility. Instead they will go to the former High Peaks Dental office in the Outpost Plaza above Caffe Rustica.

Adirondack Health CEO Sylvia Getman stands in the second-floor lobby of the new Lake Placid Health and Fitness Center Monday during a tour of the facility. The medical center will have a rolling start and is expected to starting treating physical therapy patients Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The biggest difference between two facilities is the fitness components. In addition to the exercise machines, weights and locker rooms, there are lap and therapy pools, and a yoga and cycling studio. There’s also a concrete wall designed specifically for throwing medicine balls at. Adirondack Health communications director Matt Scollin said the center will also feature nutrition and healthy cooking classes — “just overall general wellness.”

Getman said the new facility is strategically designed. In the emergency department, the isolation room is right by the ambulance door, so contagious patients don’t spread illnesses. The ventilation system is also designed not to spread infections. The X-ray lab is right next to the emergency department and the sports medicine practice. A bariatric room is also located close to the ambulance entrance and will contain plus-sized beds and wheelchairs for larger patients. The hallways are also set up in horseshoe designs, making navigation and mobility easy, unlike the current facility, which has dead-end hallways.

The center still needs agency approvals, including one from the state Adirondack Park Agency for a radio tower to communicate with ambulances, replacing one in use at AMC-Lake Placid.

The emergency department will still not generally operate overnight, like at the current facility, but it’s staffed around the clock when big events are in town such as the Ironman triathlon and Lake Placid Summit Classic lacrosse tournament.

“The challenge is between midnight and 6 a.m., there’s really nobody coming in (to the Lake Placid ER),” Getman said. “To keep a staff in an emergency room, you’re not just keeping the ER staff. You’re keeping the lab staff. You’re keeping the radiology staff. We continually think about that. The busier Lake Placid gets, the busier we get.”

Stationary bikes are seen in the weight room at the new Adirondack Health Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center Monday. The new medical center will also feature a lap and therapy pool and exercise studio for yoga and cycling. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The new facility will also not have an area for landing helicopters. Instead, they will land at the Lake Placid Airport, a mile away. Most of Adirondack Health’s emergency visits are at the larger AMC hospital in Saranac Lake, and together the two get about 15,000 visits a year.

Getman said the project cost has been a little over $20 million, much of which came from grants and donations, as well as savings set aside in past years. Adirondack Health raised about $16 million through its Future of Care Campaign, which helped fund the new medical center as well as Surgical Services Department for AMC in Saranac Lake. (Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the Future of Care Campaign raised $12 million.)

On a wall near the front entrance of the new medical center hangs a board of donors. Many of these are affluent lakefront property owners, Getman said, but Scollin added that plenty of Adirondack Health staff consistently donate part of their paychecks to the campaign as well.

Construction on the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center began in 2017.

When everything is moved out of AMC-Lake Placid, that hospital will revert to the town of North Elba. The town, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority and the U.S. Olympic Committee expect to demolish the hospital build a new sports facility there.

Adirondack Health Director of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Rick Preston moves boxes at the soon-to-be-open Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center. The medical center will have a rolling start, but is expected to start treating physical rehabilitation patients Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)