Father Young’s center will now focus on wellness services

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Wellness Center: The former seminary in Altamont, which was a rehabilitation center for 35 years, is going to offer new services for the general public soon, in what Father Peter Young calls a “holistic health package.” He hopes the building will house doctors, counselors, fitness classes, and more.

The Peter Young Center, in Altamont, closed the doors to its alcoholism and substance abuse rehabilitation program in March, but a new center, focused on holistic health, is slated to open there soon.

The Peter Young Wellness Center will focus on providing services that aid individuals in physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, said Justin Donahue, a representative for the center.

Father Peter Young, a Catholic priest, began working with addicts more than 60 years ago, in Albany, and at one point, headed more than 90 residential sites, in-patient treatment centers, and halfway houses in New York State.

The rehab center bearing his name, in the old seminary perched above the village, was forced to shut down due to lack of funding, after Young’s organization faced legal scrutiny and because changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — HIPPA — made it so no other programs could be held in the same location as Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse programs.

The building, on Route 156, is 69,000 square feet, and, without other tenants in the building, Young said he simply could not afford to sustain the rehabilitation program.

Before the changes to HIPPA, other programs were also located in the former seminary, including child care, and educational classes.

“We actually started as more of a holistic health practice 35 years ago,” said Young this week. “We’re sort of trying to go back to our roots now.”

The new wellness center, he said, will cater to the general public, rather than to people struggling with substance abuse, and it will be a self-pay program, as opposed to his grant and government-funded rehab programs.

The start-up funding will be generated through fund-raisers, one of which — a gala at Saratoga National — has already raised $150,000.

“We want to figure out what we should offer that will best serve the community,” said Young, noting that, even for the middle class, it can be hard to find affordable services.

Donahue said the center wants to employ doctors, dentists, optometrists, counselors, massage therapists, fitness instructors, and more.

One local doctor, John Malfetano, who had come out of semi-retirement to do patient intake at the Peter Young Center, hopes to open a practice there.

He said he wanted to focus on helping low-income patients, but would provide care to anyone.

“People in the community — Altamont and the Hilltowns — don’t necessarily want to leave to receive services,” said Malfetano.

Young said he, and several other key planners, will be holding a “brainstorming” session for the center on Aug. 23.

“We’re really looking at a broad-brush, holistic health package,” said Young.

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