OCEANSIDE — A group of seniors is expected to attend the Tri-City Healthcare District board meeting Thursday afternoon to protest the impending closure of two senior wellness centers in Oceanside and Vista.
The North County hospital announced on July 9 that it would close the Nifty After Fifty locations July 31. Nifty After Fifty, a fitness center chain that specializes in senior wellness, has 39 locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Virginia.
It opened its locations in North County in early 2014, but hospital officials cited an inability to increase membership — despite what it called “extensive marketing efforts” — as the reason for the decision to shut down operations.
Tri-City has offered free six-month memberships to its Wellness Center on El Camino Real in Carlsbad to seniors displaced by the closures.
The Healthcare district board of directors voted on the closure in June.
“The extensive marketing programs have not been productive in increasing membership due primarily to a lack of physician referrals,” according to a staff report in June.
Local resident Kimberly Stone said that seniors were unaware of the upcoming closure and will lobby the board of directors to reverse its decision, which Stone said would harm seniors by taking away a place where they can stay in shape and receive other health and wellness programs in an environment conducive to their needs.
“While I clearly understand the importance of profit for all businesses, I believe the loss to the community needs to also be considered,” Stone wrote in her letter to the board. “I believe that we can all work together to make this beneficial for all parties. These unique facilities serve one of the largest senior and disabled communities in North County, their needs will now be unmet.”
Stone said that many seniors don’t feel comfortable using the wellness center, which she said is geared toward a younger clientele. Additionally, many seniors won’t able to afford the $75 monthly membership fee after the six-month membership expires.
“Seniors don’t like competing with the young people at the gym,” Stone said. “We have many seniors whose main source of income is social security. There is no way they can afford $75 a month.”
Stone said she expects a large contingent of seniors to speak at the board meeting, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Tri-City Medical Center boardroom, 4002 Vista Way, Oceanside.