#AT4ALLSecondary School

Texas Schools Add Athletic Trainers


#AT4ALLSecondary School

Texas Schools Add Athletic Trainers

Dr. Mark Cullen has wanted Mid-Columbia Medical Center to provide more support to local schools since he moved from Atlanta, Ga., to become the sports medicine specialist three years ago.

By hiring three additional athletic trainers in the past year and increasing MCMC’s coverage into Sherman County and South Wasco school districts, the hospital has done just that.

When Dr. Cullen started in Atlanta 19 years ago, he said the support at high schools was limited, with an athletic trainer coming out once a week, usually for a Friday game. But by the time he left, every high school had a trainer sponsored by a hospital or physical therapy group. A few high schools employed their own trainers and some of the bigger ones even had two.

“It just helped improve the overall coverage for injury prevention, getting injuries treated on site and helping with concussion screenings,” Dr. Cullen said. “You get involved in the community, get your name out there and it’s goodwill for the hospital, but also provides a valuable service.”

When Cullen first visited MCMC, there was one trainer that went to three schools. Before he was hired, an additional trainer was placed full time at The Dalles High School.

Now, MCMC’s sports medicine team has grown to seven. Along with Cullen is director Brandon Strizich and five certified athletic trainers, all of whom have master’s degrees and are licensed by the Board of Certification.

Lauren Miller, the clinical lead, puts the schedule together to make sure all practices and games are covered. She also goes out to Horizon Christian in Hood River.

John Barresse spends his time at TDHS, arriving to the school at around 9 a.m. to assist with the second and third period weight training classes. He’s there for practices and games as well.

Having a presence in Dufur, Sherman and South Wasco is also important, especially since those schools are farther away from the hospital.

“The distance to come see a doctor, if we can do a lot of things on site, it really helps the families out,” Dr. Cullen said.

Joe Lanzetti has been working in Sherman County since August and already feels a part of the community.

“I had never imagined working at a small school before but having that community out there, where parents are much more eager to talk to us now instead of being terrified that they have to go to a doctor,” Lanzetti said.

“I’m having a good time. It’s really awesome to have that community and every now and then I go to Dufur and some of the kids will recognize me there and The Dalles. It’s really neat to keep track of the community.”

Esther Ferguson, who was previously a trainer for the Army at Fort Benning, works in Dufur and Cullen’s assistant in the clinic, Rory McHardy, covered the South Wasco football team this fall.

“This is absolutely the strongest we’ve been, for sure,” Strizich said. “This is a real testament to the candidates that we were able to draw here. Each one of our ATCs has a wealth of experience. We hired people that really fit the cohesiveness of our team. We’re really busy running around and making sure our kids are well taken care of.”

If the trainers have any questions, Dr. Cullen is just a phone call away.

“He’s a great backup if we ever have questions or an interesting case, he’s the guy that we go to,” Miller said. “It’s a team approach where you have to work together,” Dr. Cullen added. “If your trainers don’t have backup from the physicians, it makes it harder to do things. Before I came in they didn’t have the physician backup. By putting that piece together we’ve made it much more successful with what we are doing.”

The ATCs are also on site to aid with injuries that require emergency medical services.

While the Oregon School Activities Association recommends its schools have a trainer, many can’t afford it, which makes ACT programs sponsored by hospitals so important.

MCMC offers its services to the schools at no charge .In the summer, the sports medicine staff also hosts strength and conditioning camps in The Dalles.

“You just try to improve the overall athleticism, whether it’s being able to do pushups, proper running technique, all those things pay huge dividends as far as decreasing injuries and I saw that year after year in Atlanta,” Dr. Cullen said. “Those offseason workouts are what help you be successful during the season and prevent injuries.”