Center of Care

November 2, 2018


For any athletic department, the chance to expand its sports medicine facility is a welcome one. But when a renovation is tied into a broader partnership that enhances the level of care provided, all the better. Purdue University Northwest (a recent merger of Purdue University Calumet and Purdue University North Central that competes at the NCAA Division II level), has been the beneficiary of such an opportunity.

Community Healthcare System, an organization comprising three hospitals in northwestern Indiana, recently became the exclusive provider of athletic training services to Purdue University Northwest (PNW), supplying a head athletic trainer and two assistant athletic trainers to the athletic department. In addition, Community Healthcare System fully funded the school’s Community Hospital Athletic Training and Physical Therapy Center. The project’s construction entailed doubling the size of the school’s existing athletic training room to 1,795 square feet and creating a new wing for physical therapy.

A key element of the center is that it serves not only the athletic department, but is open to the public, as well. When PNW’s athletic trainers are not working with athletes, they treat patients from the community, who can be billed. The clinicians in the physical therapy wing mainly see non-athletes, who are also billed for services.

“The intent was to improve athletic training services and facilities for PNW, but at the same time, leverage that opportunity into something that would better serve the campus community and the surrounding areas,” says John Doherty, MS, ATC, PT, ITAT, Vice President of Therapy Services, Sports Medicine, and Occupational Health for Community Healthcare System. “For us, it’s been a chance to expand our service to another population and geographic neighborhood. Our hospital is in Munster, about six miles away from PNW’s campus, so the center allows us to offer a high level of service to another zip code. And it’s helped us interact better with PNW, which we’ve partnered with for years through its nursing school.”

It took two years of planning before the Athletic Training and Physical Therapy Center officially opened in April 2015, a process Doherty describes as “elaborate.” After the proposal was vetted by campus officials, a second round of approvals was required from the Purdue University system’s main campus. “Then it had to go before our Community Care Network Board for approval as part of our capital budgeting process,” says Doherty.

But since the doors have opened, all has been smooth sailing. “PNW has been an amazing partner, and there haven’t been any major challenges,” Doherty says. “When any issues arise, there is open communication between the head athletic trainer and Athletic Director Rick Costello. It has worked extremely well, and I know Mr. Costello would agree with me that it’s been an outstanding partnership.”

PNW’s student-athletes have also been pleased with the result. “Satisfaction surveys are given to the student-athletes every year, and the reviews have always been stellar,” says Doherty. “The athletes appreciate the quality of care, and the nature of the facilities are higher than they’d expect for a D-II school.”

In addition, the center has developed a reputation among Community Healthcare System employees as a great place to work. “Let me put it this way—anytime I have an opening at PNW, one of my high school athletic trainers instantly applies for it,” Doherty says. “It’s a highly desired position.”

Looking ahead, Doherty believes the alliance will stand for many years and continue to evolve. “There have been discussions of adding an athletic training intern position and some education programs,” he says. “This is a long-standing relationship that transcends any financial arrangements. It really is a partnership rather than a business opportunity.”

This article appeared in the November 2018 issue of Training & Conditioning.

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