CINCINNATI -- Seventy percent of high schools in the U.S. use the services of an athletic trainer to monitor and care for student athletes’ injuries. The relationship between trainers and schools has evolved to include support beyond simply their presence at sporting events and in the locker room.
Lakota Local Schools is one example of a school district – like many in the region – that has a partnership with athletic trainers and physicians extending beyond the field or court.
Lakota – which had a previous partnership with Atrium Medical Center – began a new partnership in December with Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and the Christ Hospital Health Network.
The Lakota school board approved the agreement, which estimates services valued at about $3.5 million over the next five years. In exchange for Lakota athletics marketing opportunities, the new partners committed to provide athletic trainer services and strength and conditioning coaching for student athletes in grades 7-12.
Some of the funds from the marketing agreement will be used by Lakota to support recently installed turf fields at both high schools, said Chris Passarge, Lakota’s chief operating officer.
“Many schools have looked at ways to not use general fund dollars to help secure things they would need for their districts,” Passarge said. “We are always being creative to try to not use tax dollars to help benefit our students and fund improvements to our facilities.”
Beacon will provide three full-time athletic trainers to each of the two Lakota high schools to cover practices and games for all student athletes. Sports medicine physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek of Beacon will be the medical director for Lakota West High School. Dr. Peter Cha, also of Beacon, will be the medical director at Lakota East High School.
Beacon and Christ joined forces three years ago to provide comprehensive health services to student athletes at schools including Moeller, Oak Hills, Indian Hill, Princeton plus a dozen more. Beacon also provides services to additional schools outside its partnership with Christ.
Beacon and Christ offer broader medical care, because not all sports health issues are related to bones and joints, said Herb Caillouet, executive director of the Christ Hospital Joint & Spine Center. For example, a wrestler might have contact dermatitis and need the care of a dermatologist.
“There are a number of things that fall outside of the scope of what a typical orthopedist would do,” Caillouet said. “There’s a team of people who can be deployed no matter what the issue.”
Lakota student athletes have expedited access to doctors or other health professionals in the Beacon/Christ network in case of an injury, illness or follow-up care. Beacon will also provide Lakota with nutritionists, performance benchmarking, and strength and conditioning coaching.
“It is really all encompassing; it’s no longer just an orthopedic focus, it’s a total wellness and health focus,” said Andy Blankemeyer, CEO of Beacon.
Beacon and Christ also support some scholarships that help student athletes, Passarge said.
The partnership also offers students a chance to intern or shadow at Beacon or Christ – which is building a large medical facility in Liberty Township – as part of a broader internship program that connects Lakota students with local businesses.
For Beacon and Christ, the arrangement is a way to become part of that community – and to be a recognizable name and resource when community members seek medical care.
“This is not about just injured athletes. We want to become part of the Lakota community,” Blankemeyer said. “We want to show the district and community that we are there to provide high-quality orthopedic care.”