Barton opens $15 million Center for Orthopedics and Wellness in Robert Maloff Center | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Barton opens $15 million Center for Orthopedics and Wellness in Robert Maloff Center

Maggie Mayer | mmayer@tahoedailytribune.com

After years of anticipation, Barton Health has opened its $15 million orthopedic and wellness center, which emphasizes holistic approaches to injury prevention, rehabilitation and healthy lifestyle choices.

A ribbon cutting and facility tour marked the center's official opening Thursday.

"Whether it is walking without pain, enjoying our favorite things about living, or pursuing the phenomenal outdoor recreation we have access to around this beautiful lake, the services offered at the Robert Maloff Center support you on your health journey," said Kirk Ledbetter, Barton legacy and chairman of the Barton Health Board of Directors, who spoke at the ceremony.

The center is located in the Robert Maloff Center on the Barton medical campus. It is founded on four service lines: orthopedics, rehabilitation, sports performance and wellness, concentrating on preventative healthcare and holistic approaches to long-term wellness, according to Barton.

Construction for the facility began in August 2016 and the center was scheduled to open in September 2017. However, heavy snowfall in winter 2016-17 set the opening back close to one year.

The 26,000-foot facility boasts some of physical therapy's newest rehab tools, x-ray technology that cuts time in half, an aquatic center, acupuncture, and a state-of-the-art workout area, among a plethora of other amenities.

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The center opened with the help of famed local philanthropist Lisa Maloff, who donated $10 million on behalf of her late husband, Robert Maloff. Lisa is known as the "Angel of Tahoe" for to her contributions to the community.

The building adopts modern architectural elements while adhering to Tahoe's mountain atmosphere, making it feel less like a doctor's office and more like a type of medical getaway. Large windows complement the facility's open design, offering views of Mt. Tallac and the surrounding forest.

"My favorite part of being here after a few months is I can stand in one spot and see everything that's going on," Chris Proctor, the center's administrative director, told the Tribune. "That's what we wanted out of the design of the building. We didn't want to do anything that prevented us from really letting you see what's next."

The first floor of the facility is noticeable for its workout space, which is supplemented with sports therapy tools and the aquatic center. The second floor has exam rooms for doctor appointments, as well as convertible meeting spaces that can be used for conference space or as areas for meditation, health classes and yoga.

Barton has teamed with ALTIS, an elite athlete training company, to accommodate its concentration on athletes and promote safe training techniques. ALTIS Performance Director Nick Ward said the partnership is athlete focused, but functions for all types of people.

"There was a piece of the continuum missing or not explored," Ward said. "We want to ensure that … people understand how their body works and moves, and how our training can be beneficial to them."

Currently, the center and ALTIS are working on a youth summer sports program with South Tahoe High School.

The center also has been named a Certified Center of Excellence by U.S. Ski and Snowboard and plans to expand its treatment and rehab options for elite winter athletes.

Proctor said although there are a number of athlete-focused opportunities, the center and its services are accessible to everyone, adding it shouldn't matter whether you're an Olympian or just want to be able to go hiking without pain.

"It's about being a better version (of yourself) or whatever you're trying to strive for," he said.

A $1 million donation was given by the Fry family to commemorate Dr. Paul "Papa" Fry II, who was South Lake Tahoe's first orthopedic surgeon in 1964. This was used to fund an aquatic center, which will be used for rehabilitation.

The center also plans to integrate the famed nature surrounding it to help patients adopt a healthy lifestyle in more unconventional ways. Barton Health contributed $50,000 to the acquisition of Johnson Meadow, which was the largest privately owned section of the Upper Truckee River. Partnered with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, trails will be made more accessible for those who want to spend time outside.

Proctor said the center was able to accommodate 10 new hires and is welcoming 10 employees from Barton, as well as two people from ALTIS.