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Student-Athletes Receive Free Physicals

  • Category: Media Release
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Melanie Zaffuto

Every spring, North Oaks Sports Medicine provides free physicals for Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes student-athletes. This year, more than 1,300 area student-athletes from 42 junior high and high schools participated. This represents a combined total savings of nearly $100,000 for local residents like the Jones family of Hammond.Ashley Watson, a Certified Nursing Assistant at North Oaks Medical Center, takes 13-year-old Drew Milton of Saint Thomas Aquinas Regional Catholic High School through the paces of his eye exam.

“North Oaks Sports Medicine Physical Day benefitted my family by allowing us to get my daughter a quality physical given by a great staff at no cost to me,” notes Joell Jones of Hammond. Jones’ daughter Megan attends Holy Ghost Catholic School, where she plays volleyball and will be entering seventh grade in the fall.

Orthopaedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist Jeff Witty, MD, of North Oaks Orthopaedic Specialty Center examines Grahm Casse, a 17-year-old soccer player and cross country runner at Hammond High Magnet School.North Oaks has sponsored the Tangipahoa Parish Physical Day for 27 years and the Livingston Parish Physical Day for eight years to assist families and schools in fulfilling Louisiana High School Athletic Association requirements for participation in athletic programs.

This community service was made possible in Hammond and Livingston through the volunteer efforts of 32 physicians and nurse practitioners coupled with 165 employees, athletic trainers and athletic training students from Southeastern Louisiana University.

“To be able to have physicals performed for all of our student-athletes in one location on one day is of tremendous benefit to our program,” asserts Hank Tierney, Ponchatoula High School’s head football coach. “The quality and thoroughness of the physicals are top-notch. In fact, we had seven student-athletes who did not pass this year and were referred to their personal physicians for follow up. Obviously, we want our student-athletes to pass their physicals, but we would rather identify issues on the front-end so that they can work with their personal physicians to resolve the issue rather than have it lead to further injury or tragedy on the playing field.”Dr. Stephen Graham performs a heart and lung check on Hammond High Magnet School football and track athlete Kevin Primus, 18.

Ryan Serpas, who is athletic director and head football coach for Springfield High School, also touted the safety and prevention aspects of the screenings.Dr. Juan Martinez of North Oaks Primary Care in Hammond prepares to evaluate Physical Day first-timer Nicholas Graves, 14.

“We’ve had a couple of student-athletes flagged for heart issues in past years. So it’s a comfort to me knowing that I’m not putting a student-athlete, who may have underlying conditions, in a stressful situation.” The school has participated in Physical Day for 13 years.

“We really appreciate North Oaks providing physical exams for our athletes at Hammond High Magnet School,” shares Hammond High’s Head Football Coach Steve Jones. "It is a big relief as a coach to have our athletes receive a thorough exam each year.”

Camryn Woods, a 17-year-old point guard for the Albany High School Lady Hornets, gets a blood pressure check from North Oaks Patient Access Associate Britani Jackson.Stacy Darouse, Albany High’s girls basketball coach, concurs on the benefits of Physical Day, adding that it also presents a prime opportunity for team bonding.

“The Lady Hornets arrived together and went to breakfast as a team afterward.”

The free physical screenings offered annually in both Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes are just one benefit of enrollment in the North Oaks Sports Medicine Program.Ryan Serpas takes advantage of the blood pressure check screening station provided by Dr. Joseph Heneghan of North Oaks Primary Care in Walker during Sports Medicine Physical Day in Livingston. Serpas is the athletic director and head football coach for Springfield High School.Dr. Gayle Beyl of North Oaks Primary Care in Livingston performs a heart and lung check on Amira Raddler, 12. Raddler is a point guard for Doyle Junior High School’s Lady Tigers.

Other program features include: injury prevention and athletic ability enhancement education for athletes and coaches; and athletic trainer coverage at many school-sponsored sporting events and practices. Saturday morning clinics are held during football season offering free injury evaluation and physician referral.

For more information on North Oaks Sports Medicine and program enrollment criteria, call (985) 230-5248.