Fitness

Residents Express Outrage Over Edward Hospital Fitness Center Closure

NAPERVILLE, IL — In the time since Edward Hospital officials announced they would be closing the facility’s fitness center, community members have rallied against the move, citing the connection they have had with it over the years.

An online petition on Change.org has garnered more than 2,800 signatures as of Thursday afternoon. The organizer of the drive, Steve Shamrock, writes on the petition’s homepage that the decision to close the fitness center on April 1 was made without community input and said that hospital officials only posted the notice on the door that the fitness center will be closing in a month’s time.

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“For a company that espouses that it is “making investments in public health”, for it to close this center that is part of the fabric of people’s lives and relationships that serves to prevent illness that is costly, leaves me incredulous,” Shamrock wrote. “The way I see it, this move signals that they want people to become ill or injured so they can boost profits. This is the opposite of what a health institution is supposed to do.”

In a statement issued by Edward Elmhurst Health in response to public outrage, officials said that the decision to close the fitness facility in Naperville was not made lightly. Officials said that the health system is committed to working with patients to help them in meeting their health and wellness needs at the nearby Seven Bridges facility, which opened in 1997 in Woodridge.

Officials said that the Seven Bridges facility is located just six miles from the Naperville fitness center and “closely matches” the fitness center at Edward Hospital’s main location. The health system also said that it is working quickly to determine how the nearby fitness center can add more classes to its existing schedule to further meet the needs of those community members who frequented the Naperville site.

Officials also said that it is working to expand water fitness classes and other aquatic offerings at the Seven Bridges location and said that those additional classes should be available by mid-March. They also said that all four of the Seven Bridges pools are designed for accessibility including ADA-compliant pool lifts that lower and raise members into and out of the water from the pool deck as well as both therapy and lap pools with graduated steps to enter the water so that a ladder is not needed.

The health system cited a 20 percent drop in fitness center membership since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials also said that weekly visits to the centers by existing members have dropped by 15 percent in the same timeframe, which led to the closure of the fitness center in Naperville.

Still, residents are continuing to express their displeasure with the decision. Shamrock wrote that he and his wife have been members at the Naperville location for 15 years. Although Edward Elmhurst has offered the Seven Bridges location as an alternative, residents like Shamrock are frustrated by the inconvenience of not having a fitness center in their city.

“With so many people under stress of inflation, taking away a place to maintain their health and nurture relationships is antithetical to what a healthcare provider should do,” he wrote.

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