Presbyterian continues to expand partnership
One year into their partnership with Union County Schools, Presbyterian Healthcare is expanding past an athletic training program, providing ways to help athletes bounce back from concussions. In the past, student athletes walked off the field with headaches, but no one checked one or two weeks later to see if they had concussion symptoms. Under the new partnership, athletic trainers inform nurses at each school of the injuries sustained during a game. Nurses then check players during the week, making sure any injuries haven’t worsened and no new symptoms have developed. In addition to expanding to more schools this fall, the program will also include a hotline for athletes and their parents to call, to help in dealing with the symptoms of concussions and other medical issues.
“More and more we’re learning about the dangers of concussions,” Dr. Eric Warren, medical director of the partnership with UCPS, said. “We see students going, ‘Coach, I’m fine’, when they have the symptoms of a concussion. Some of the problems, they won’t even find out about until later. That’s what we’re hoping to change.”
Starting in August, Union County student athletes will have greater access to information about concussions and their symptoms as well. For the third straight year, Presbyterian will hold a sports medicine symposium for Union County coaches, athletic directors, first responders and athletic trainers. Additionally, a hotline is being set up, where student athletes or their parents can call and speak to a sports medicine expert, allowing them to ask questions or discuss symptoms. The number is 704-316-SPRT. Presbyterian rolled out the idea on a trial basis in May, but now are ready to make it available to a wider audience.
“It was very well received, now we’re rolling that out on a bigger scale,” Presbyterian information office Laura Edwards said. “Students can call in, discuss their symptoms and be told, ok, these are the things to do.
The partnership with Presbyterian puts Union County ahead of the game. During this year’s session of the General Assembly, a bill was signed into law requiring schools to follow certain guidelines. All athletes in middle and high schools must be removed from participation if there is a suspension they suffered a concussion. Additionally, the state will require coaches, trainers, athletes and parents to receive information about concussions.
While other states are working to put something together, UCPS and Presbyterian launched their partnership last year. The pilot program started at Piedmont, Forest Hills and Weddington. Two more schools will be added to the mix by August. The plan is to eventually have athletic trainers at all 10 of the high schools by the end of the upcoming school year.
The health-care system also is adding 21 nurses to the district over the next six years. Waxhaw’s Western Union Elementary is also taking part in a pilot for the health-care provider’s health-needs assessment program, looking at everything from obesity rates to nutrition.
Each school will have its needs studied and eventually Presbyterian will develop applicable programs to promote proper nutrition or more exercise and outdoor activities, if that’s what the specific school requires.
Presbyterian also includes a program known as “Parent University” to the partnership. It’s a course currently offered in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools that helps parents with questions ranging from creating a healthy environment at home to dealing with injuries students sustain.