News

These Doctors Make Condo Calls

New York Times | February 8th, 2013

Changes in modern medicine largely ushered out the era of the family doctor decades ago, but at one condominium building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, doctors are once again making house calls.

At the Edge — two buildings with about 565 condo units at Kent Avenue and North Seventh Street — a program called Your Well-Being has since its inception last year offered on-site consultations with medical doctors, as well as services like nutrition counseling, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and personal fitness training.

Offered by an amenities company called American Leisure, the Your Well-Being program is finding some participants among Edge residents, who are predominantly singles in their 30s and 40s. This is the first such program to be promoted by the company, which also believes itself to be the first offering these kinds of medical services in a condo building.

The program is not intended to replace the primary care providers of the Edge’s residents, said Steve Kass, the founder and chief executive of American Leisure. There is no comparison between the Your Well-Being program and, say, a walk-in medical storefront.

“We’re not trying to become a medical facility,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is bring some very special high-level services to where people live.”

Kevin Neenan, who lives in a studio apartment at the Edge and is a Manhattan firefighter and a former triathlete, said he decided to take part in the program to try to manage the pain he suffers from an on-the-job knee injury sustained several years ago. “I’m not going to say I was at the point where I was depressed,” he said. “But every time I go to work, we carry up to 120 pounds of gear up a lot of high-rise buildings and tall tenement buildings, and I have at least 10 more years to go in the Fire Department, and I was thinking, ‘How will I be, physically, by the time I reach retirement?’ ”

In the Edge’s treatment rooms, Mr. Neenan has seen a board-certified physician specializing in sports medicine. Mr. Neenan said his health insurance had been covering the treatment, which is the same as what he would receive if he visited a doctor’s office.

And besides seeing this physician, Mr. Neenan said, he has been undergoing massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, nutritional counseling and personal fitness training, among other therapeutic services, all of which have been taking place at the Edge. “I’ve seen immediate effects from the treatment,” Mr. Neenan said. “It hasn’t alleviated knee pain, but I’m much more healthy than I was when I started. When you have an injury, sometimes you forget about the rest of yourself, so what the program’s really helped is improving the rest of myself.

“It’s given me a different perspective on trying to overcome my knee issues,” he added, “as well as trying to maintain this sort of long-term progressive health. Forty isn’t old, but when you’re injured or unhealthy, you start to feel old and you might not have to.”
Offering access to doctors and specialists is just a small part of the Your Well-Being program, said Mr. Kass of American Leisure, which he described as a company that conceptualizes, designs and operates “lifestyle facilities.”

The program is meant to provide residents whatever resources they need to feel better, he said, and that can include a variety of physical services, like massage or physical therapy, along with mental health services, like access to psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

“We create environments that will allow people to have experiences that will enhance their well-being,” Mr. Kass said. “We’re looking at the whole human being in a holistic kind of way, and we’re looking at the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual — and included in the physical is nutrition.”
While some of these services, including a doctor’s visit, could theoretically be offered in a resident’s apartment, the amenity spaces at the Edge are intended to accommodate them, Mr. Kass said. Multipurpose rooms for spa treatments and massage therapy can also be used for medical appointments. The Edge’s water features — among them an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, a plunge pool with a waterfall, a whirlpool with jets, and a sauna and steam room — can be used for recreation or hydrotherapy. The Edge also has two fitness centers, a multifunction sports facility with a basketball court, and a movement studio for yoga and dance.

Kimberly Wertman, an Edge resident in her 20s, uses the Your Well-Being program in a more piecemeal fashion than Mr. Neenan. She said the program offered her rehabilitation services, which are covered by her health insurance, for longstanding injuries she had sustained as a competitive soccer player.
Since her initial consultation, Ms. Wertman said, she has undergone massage therapy and personal training. “For me,” she said, “I think those two are probably the most effective aspects, because I’ve had joints that haven’t wanted to move very well the past couple of years. In terms of mobility and flexibility, both of those services have helped me.”

Mr. Kass says the Your Well-Being program has been successful enough at the Edge that American Leisure plans to introduce it at three more buildings in April and two in June.