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March 27, 2018

In North Carolina, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is partnering with four Wilkes County high schools to provide an athletic trainer for each of their athletic programs. An article from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot provides an overview of the contract.

The schools will pay Wake Forest Baptist an annual service fee of $50,000 each year. In other words, each school’s athletic program will be responsible for contributing $12,500 to Wake Forest Baptist, which will be payable in monthly installments.

The contract--which is initially set until June 30, 2020--also includes an annual service fee increase of three percent. The schools will be responsible for this fee. Wake Forest Baptist will take care of the costs beyond this amount.

“This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission to improve the health of people in our communities,” Kevin P. High, M.D., Executive Vice President, Health System Affairs, Wake Forest Baptist Health, said. “We have a long history of serving the people of Wilkes County and are confident that this program will be a great benefit to student athletes and their families.”

Although the athletic trainers will work with the high schools, they will be employed by Wake Forest Baptist. Their hours will be matched with the athletic events at the high schools.

According to Chris Skabo, Director of Athletics and Healthful Living for the Wilkes schools, the schools currently don’t have athletic trainers. Instead, there are first responders who serve in that role. “These positions will still be funded and they will provide assistance to the licensed athletic trainers.”

As mandated by the state’s high school athletic association, the athletic trainers will be required to attend all football practices and games, as well as all wrestling matches. The athletic trainers will be help out with injuries, even those that occur outside of athletic settings.

The athletic trainers will also “work with all other sports teams,” Skabo said. “They will be assigned practices or games by each individual school’s athletic director. They will also handle concussion protocol at the high schools, and mainly help with concussion cases at the middle schools.”

Sports medicine physicians will develop a specialized concussion program, according to the contract, with the high schools’ needs tailored into the program. Additionally, the contract specifies that Wake Forest Baptist will also provide the services of a licensed attending physician, with sports medicine expertise, to serve as a medical director.

The duties of the medical director include that he or she will “oversee the program, determine personnel needs and address concerns of the high schools, the (school) board, or both.”

Along with the annual service fees, the high schools will be responsible for providing necessary equipment. For example, the schools will provide the treatment and taping tables for the athletic trainers.

“We will also provide treatment equipment such as whirlpools, electric stimulation machines and so forth,” Skabo said. “We will provide all medical supplies such as tape, sprays, and so on.”

The hiring process will begin soon. Now that the contract has been approved, Wake Forest Baptist will begin advertising for the positions.  

“This is such a great partnership for us to be in with Wake Forest Baptist,” Skabo said. “Our student athletes deserve the best care available and Wake Forest Baptist and the Wilkes County Board of Education certainly stepped up to the plate to make this happen. I feel like certified athletic trainers on staff will be mandatory at high schools in the near future. We are ahead of the game for sure.”

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