HGH, Lowry Partner to Ensure Well-Being of Community Athletes

Lowry High School and Humboldt General Hospital have joined forces to ensure the health and well being of this community's athletes.

The HGH "Sports Medicine Team" officially kicks off during this school year—formalizing a sports medicine relationship between the community and the school that has existed for many years.

In fact, it was school board member Andrew Hillyer and Century Club president Greg Monroe—both physical therapists—who first began attending games some 20 years ago to provide sports medicine services to athletes as needed.

Since then, other local therapists including Chad Backus, Mike Snow, Demarah Gray, as well as medical professionals like Dr. Robbie Grant, Dr. Brad Granath and Dr. Len Perkinson, have also provided aid when possible.

HGH Wellness Coordinator Louis Mendiola said about a year ago, he began to consider the possibilities of formalizing those services and having the hospital and its resources act as an umbrella over a Lowry High School Sports Medicine program.

It just so happened that Mendiola's thinking coincided with some discussions between HGH CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish and hospital Director of Community Education and Development Nicole Maher.

Maher said Parrish routinely expressed his concern with some of the issues the hospital sees in regard to local youth. Specifically, Maher told school board members during their Tuesday, June 25, meeting that drug use, underage drinking and sexually transmitted diseases were of grave concern to hospital officials.

Maher said Parrish said it was the hospital's responsibility to better support the youth of the community in an effort to curb such risky behaviors. She also said it was natural to focus on the high school since that is where the greatest concentration of high risk youth resides.

Mendiola told school board members that he reviewed a number of sports medicine models and wanted to do something similar in a relationship with Lowry High School.

"We wanted to provide a more uniform program, with greater coverage where possible, but also to begin developing a practicum where we could involve the youth in some sports medicine training."

That practicum will roll out this year with a few senior students who will begin learning the ins and outs of sports medicine under the tutelage of local professionals. The youth will also be in charge of maintaining the school's sports medicine rooms.

Those training rooms are in the process of receiving some much-needed upgrades, courtesy of the hospital, to provide a more hospitable training environment for athletes, but also a ready workplace for providers.

The rooms have received new coats of paint, flooring, cabinets, training tables, sinks, shelving and televisions. The hospital also purchased a new ice machine for the room in the school's older gymnasium as well as training bags for all coaches, and backpacks and bags for all varsity athletes.

Additionally, the hospital donated the use of a Polaris 6x6 to the school, to not only help athletic officials complete the extensive field setup and takedown that comes with each sports contest, but also to transport athletes, if needed, from the field to the training rooms where they can receive care.

The hospital will continue to station ambulances at the school during varsity football games.

Mendiola sees this year's improvements as a welcome step toward what both entities hope will be a long-standing and fruitful relationship.

Superintendent Dave Jensen said that even though there is still much to define in terms of how the program will roll out over the coming years, he said the "HGH Sports Medicine Team" can only be a benefit to the students and athletes at Lowry High School.

"We see this as a very positive step forward," said Dr. Jensen. "Not only are we excited at the prospect of working with the hospital to ensure the health of our athletes, but we see this partnership as a model and a starting point for other partnerships in the community."

HGH CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish agreed. "As a hospital, we derive benefit from these kinds of community partnerships when we are able to fulfill our purpose of 'being helpful and caring for those in need.'"

Parrish continued, "Our relationship with Lowry High School allows us to do that with our high school youth, a group we consider to be one of our most at-risk populations."

He continued, "Through this program we will help guard our athletes' well being, but we will also provide resources to help teach new skills, and our professionals will, in their individual and personal ways, help motivate and inspire these youth to choose good things in their lives."