During the month of March, the field of athletic training is celebrated nationally for the dedication to safety and quality care athletic trainers bring to their communities. In northeastern North Carolina, Sentara athletic trainers from Sentara Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Physicians April Johnson, Bernie Stasko, Courtney Martin, Kelly Daniels, and Meaghan Minori are integral parts of providing safe environments for sport to student athletes at five area high schools.

Athletic Trainers Provide Coordination of Care for Student Athletes from Field to Clinic

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During the month of March, the field of athletic training is celebrated nationally for the dedication to safety and quality care athletic trainers bring to their communities. In northeastern North Carolina, Sentara athletic trainers from Sentara Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Physicians April Johnson, Bernie Stasko, Courtney Martin, Kelly Daniels, and Meaghan Minori are integral parts of providing safe environments for sport to student athletes at five area high schools.

Their dedication goes beyond the practice field, as they are present at local high school sporting events to provide any first aid treatment or coordinate higher levels of care should the need arise. Sometimes that higher level of care means helping to coordinate transport for a student who sustained a cervical spinal cord injury on the field while simultaneously ensuring proper protocols of care are performed to minimize critical risk and prevent any further injury. Athletic trainer, Kelly Daniels, did just that last fall when a football player at Perquimans High School in Hertford, NC was injured. “A very important component of patient care that athletic trainers provide is communication and streamlining of care,” Kelly explained. “Communication with coaches, parents, school administrators, physicians and other healthcare providers eases the process for the athlete and their family when an injury is sustained. The athletic trainer oversees the process from start to finish and coordinates care accordingly.” With Kelly’s expertise guiding the athlete’s care on the field and to appropriate transport, the student received quality care during a critical time period without delay. The student has since made a full recovery and has returned to normal daily activities including working with Kelly on return to sport activity.

The Sentara athletic training team also ensures coordination for students from the field to the appropriate healthcare providers. “We are generally the first face an injured athlete sees and we accompany our athletes to their physician appointments to be a comforting and familiar face. We also act as a 'medical jargon translator' for parents as they receive pertinent information about their child’s care,” said athletic trainer, Courtney Martin. As members of the care team in the practice, the athletic trainers also help patients navigate the healthcare system to ensure they are receiving the correct level of care. 

Sentara Recognized for Community Service and Excellence

The work that has gone into creating effective sports medicine and athletic training programs at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center has not gone unnoticed. With help from consecutive annual grants from the NFL Foundation and the Carolina Panthers, the programs have purchased equipment including AEDs, wet bulb globe thermometers, cold tubs, and other medical equipment to improve healthcare and safety for students across northeastern North Carolina. The creation of the athletic training program and the close involvement with both the community and students has garnered the Sentara team the 2018 Corporate Service Award from the North Carolina Athletic Training Association, which was awarded at the association’s 41st Clinical Symposium on March 3rd.  This award was presented for the quality healthcare and improved safety measures the program has implemented into its five schools. 

At the symposium, Kelly Daniels was the sole recipient of the association’s Lifesaver Award for the above mentioned cervical spine injury that occurred in Fall 2017 at Perquimans County High School.  The Lifesaver Award is presented by the North Carolina Athletic Training Association to recognize exemplary care given by an athletic trainer to a student-athlete in a critical medical situation. An athletic trainer’s presence and quick actions during this critical situation provided life-preserving care and allowed for immediate transport and advanced care at a Level 1 Trauma center.

Becoming an Athletic Trainer 

Common themes among the athletic trainers at Sentara are their strong desire to help patients and connect with their community, as well as a love for competition and sports. For those that may also be interested in the field of athletic training, Courtney Martin suggests visiting www.atyourownrisk.org to learn more about how athletic trainers provide healthcare in various settings. More information about careers in athletic training is available at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association website, www.NATA.org.