Cayuga Health and The YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County announced on Aug. 31 that they are entering a collaborative partnership to share resources and leverage unique assets, resulting in new services and offerings for the entire community. 

“We are very pleased to announce this exclusive partnership with our community Y,” Dr. Martin Stallone, president and CEO of Cayuga Health said. “It is mutually beneficial to both mission driven organizations to partner in the community we want to enhance, and to continue to be leaders in the community health movement.”  

YMCAs across the nation are partnering with health care providers to share resources and leverage unique assets resulting in services with an emphasis on a continuum of care that is convenient and high-quality. More than half of YMCA facilities across the United States — over 1,200 — participate in a partnership with a health care entity in their communities. 

Frank Towner, CEO of YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County said that this idea has been percolating for years, even before Stallone took over at Cayuga Health. 

“We’re really preventative, and the hospital is viewed as a fix, so we agreed — isn’t it important that our communities are partners in taking care of themselves? We thought our missions were truly aligned,” Towner said.

​​The YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County offers over 53,000 square feet of space that includes two indoor swimming pools, an NCAA standard, full-size gymnasium, racquetball courts, nutrition center and demonstration kitchen, free-weight and circuit training rooms, group fitness studios, a cardio equipment suite and family activity spaces. Programs currently offered include lap swimming, group and private swim lessons, Red Cross certification courses, archery, over 40 different land and aquatic group fitness classes, personal training, nutrition counseling and outdoor education, along with special events and programs. Youth development programming includes on-site child watch, summer day camps and school age childcare options. 

Cayuga Health employees will get subsidized memberships to the Y as part of this partnership. Towner said he thinks one of the big draws for employees will be the childcare aspect.

“This greatly benefits our employees and their families with access to this great facility and programs to help reduce/manage health disparities and have some fun,” Stallone said.

However, the new programs aren’t only for Cayuga Health employees. As part of the agreement, new and enhanced programming will be introduced to the Y’s membership and community through the partnership that will include:  

  • Sports performance and injury-prevention clinics 
  • Clinical programs to help patients manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. 
  • Expanded prevention and education services such as influenza clinics, wellness screenings. and health talks 
  • Active older adult education classes – focusing on senior health and wellness 
  • Flu vaccinations, biometric screenings, and nutrition classes

Towner said that while some of these types of things had been done before at the YMCA here and there, it had never been part of a bigger ongoing focus on wellness.

“I began my relationship with our YMCA as a volunteer in 1994 and am very proud of how far it has come since its inception in 1868 on the Cornell University campus,” Towner said. “The YMCA’s vision is to create facilities that are far more than fitness or child-care centers. We are looking forward to a whole new level of benefits that this partnership with Cayuga Health will bring to our YMCA members, Cayuga employees and to the community.” 

He described the announcement of the partnership as just the first stone being laid, as the programming will continue to evolve and grow throughout the process.  

"I'm excited by the opportunities that will develop as a result of a partnership between two of Ithaca's strongest health and wellness focused organizations. The benefits of being a member of the Ithaca YMCA will only grow as collaborative programming is created and offerings expanded," says Ryan Weese, Board Chair 2021, YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County.

Towner said there are no price increases anticipated as a result of the new programming.

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