The Memorial Hospital board approves plan to work with school athletics |

The Memorial Hospital board approves plan to work with school athletics

— At its Thursday meeting, the board of trustees for The Memorial Hospital voted, 5-0, to go ahead with the initial stages of a contract with the Moffat County School District to provide the district with medical support for its athletic programs.

TMH Chief of Organizational Excellence Jennifer Riley presented the idea to the board, stating that it will be the first "formal" arrangement of the kind between the two entities. In previous years, the district has had trainers and physical therapists such as former Craig resident Jeff Pleasant involved with the sports teams of Moffat County High School, but this plan will be more detailed.

Although the exact personnel have not yet been designated, a TMH physician will oversee athletics within the district and will collaborate with a physical therapist or certified athletic trainer who will be heavily involved with the development and care of student athletes.

According to the terms of the agreement, the therapist/trainer will be on-site at the high school from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. every school day during practices and will stay in touch with coaches and parents for high school and middle school students about any issues that may arise. The therapist/trainer also will attend as many games as possible, with priority given to sports with high and medium levels of contact.

High-contact sports include football, basketball, volleyball and soccer, while the medium level is wrestling, track and baseball. Cross-country, golf and swimming rank as low-contact sports, but the purpose of the program is to have medical attention available at all home games.

"You never know what can happen, and we want to ensure the safety of all our student-athletes," Riley said.

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TMH already provides EMS workers at many sporting events, so creating a larger program makes perfect sense, Riley said.

The worrisome element of concussions was brought up at the meeting. Through the program, the therapist/trainer will perform concussion tests to obtain a baseline for all students in middle school and older.

Additionally, if an athlete is at risk of a concussion during play, on-site TMH personnel will not be authorized to recommend putting them back in a game.

"They'll need to be cleared by a provider for that," Riley said.

The program also will offer education for students wanting to work as team trainers as well as basic supplies and services should any visiting players suffer injuries, though hospital-employed staff members only are cleared to do certain procedures for students whose parents have signed medical releases with the district.

"If something like that happens, we'll still take them to the hospital; we just can't do that through the school," Riley said.

The estimated cost of the program is about $76,000 overall, for which the Moffat County School Board's responsibility would be $1,000 each for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons. The remaining funds will be provided solely by the hospital with the dual purpose of offering area students good care as well as growing the TMH brand and creating hospital awareness through banner advertisements at sporting events.

Riley described the program as a "community partnership."

Board members were quick to voice their support for the effort, which also was a discussion point at the school district's September board of education meeting. Once the contract is solidified and signed, TMH hopes to have a trainer/therapist ready to start in November.

"I think this is a great start," said board Chairman Don Cook.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or

In other action

At its monthly meeting Thursday night, the board of trustees for The Memorial Hospital:

• Voted, 5-0, to approve medical staff privileges presented by Chief of Staff Jeff Womble.

• Heard a report on the status of the outpatient dialysis center by CFO Bryan Chalmers.

• Voted, 5-0, to approve the purchase of a Point of Care ultrasound system for $44,000.

• Discussed TMH’s hospital liability and umbrella liability insurance.

• Heard a report on TMH’s finances for the month of August by Bryan Chalmers.

• Discussed the eventual appointment of a new board member following the resignation of Tinneal Gerber at the September meeting.

Board member Todd Jourgensen was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.