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Image courtesy of the YMCA of Metro Denver.

One of the hottest trends in the community rec industry right now are the growing number of medical partnerships organizations are creating.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, health integration is becoming an important aspect for centers to accurately provide necessary resources for members.

The YMCA of Metro Denver is one such entity who is collaborating daily with local healthcare providers. Amanda Scates-Preisinger, the senior director of health and well-being, said they have been using medical partnerships for the past five years. This currently includes formal referrals to many of her Y’s prevention and chronic disease management programs.

“Specifically, we work with nearly 40 health clinics in the area to refer to our Diabetes Prevention Program, Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program and Livestrong Cancer Survivorship Program,” said Scates-Preisinger. “Current health care partners include Centura, Health One, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, and some incredible individual practices such as Rocky Mountain Primary Care and Inner City Health.”

Scates-Preisinger said they regularly receive referrals from clinic spaces, and then the Y’s health and well-being team manages outreach, enrollment and reports back to clinics with updates on their patients.

Benefits and Reaction

Scates-Preisinger said her Y’s prevention programs help people navigate lifestyle changes. Also, they provide assistance for individuals by including referrals to other resources and access to additional programs and nutritionists.

“This additional support and the community at the Y create protective factors that influence a person’s mental health, physical health and sense of well-being,” she said. “Healthcare settings are often only able to navigate interventions or crisis moments, and the Y can help fill that gap by providing individuals with opportunities to focus on their health in real and practical ways.”

As a result of these partnerships, Scates-Preisinger said many participants who are referred to them end up engaging in other YMCA programs.

“We have participants who participated in our small group training program and nutrition consults, and they regularly partake in physical activity at the Y,” she said. “Individuals who are referred to YMCA programs experience incredible health benefits. Most importantly, members of the community find new friends and a new community that supports them along their journey.”

Lesson Learned and Advice

Since beginning partnerships with healthcare entities, Scates-Preisinger said they learned to establish HIPAA Business Associate Agreements to ensure protection of health information.

“The Denver Y receives referrals via secure fax or secure email, and we also have a HIPAA secure health platform – Welld Health – where we can track referrals and enrollment and report on participant health outcomes,” said Scates-Preisinger. “Additionally, we work closely with individual providers and clinic spaces to maintain and grow these strong partnerships.”

For other organizations considering starting similar partnerships, she reassured they are worth the effort.

“These partnerships take a lot of time and trust,” said Scates-Preisinger. “The Y continues to build these collaborations throughout the metro area. Our hope is we can build partnerships with providers who will prescribe the Y.”

Other Partnerships

The YMCA of Metro Denver isn’t the only community rec organization dipping into the pool of health integration.

Elsewhere, the YMCA of Greater Louisville and Hosparus Health held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony in June for its Resource Center at the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA. The expansion will allow the not-for-profit hospice and palliative care organization to further extend its services to communities in West Louisville.

The center will offer a variety of grief services by appointment for people of all ages, including counseling for grief due to loss, support groups for traumatic loss and education on the grief process.

The Valparaiso Family YMCA’s partnership with St. Mary Medical Center allows for a registered nurse to provide counsel on a variety of health topics like healthy eating and nutrition, heart disease, physician referrals and more. The hospital also runs physical therapy and a special Rock Steady Boxing training class for members of the YMCA.

By entering into the healthcare field, the possibilities are endless for how community rec centers can continue to make a positive impact.


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John Reecer

John Reecer is an assistant editor at Peake Media.

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