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J. Thomas McNamara

    Decatur Memorial Hospital’s athletics training program has been eliminated by Memorial Health Systems of Illinois (Springfield) because of financial problems stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Mitchell Leathers, a public relations consultant for Memorial Health Systems, provided the Decatur Tribune with this statement today (Friday) about the program’s termination and what the hospitals are doing to help the 12 schools in Decatur, Macon, Sangamon, Shelby and Piatt counties with finding athletic training services for them.
    The 12 schools are Argenta-Oreana, Central A&M, Decatur Eisenhower, Decatur LSA, Decatur MacArthur, Decatur St. Teresa, Maroa-Forsyth, Meridian, Sangamon Valley and Warrensburg-Latham.        Okaw Valley and Sullivan are part of the Sullivan football program that plays in the Central Illinois Conference and then Okaw Valley has its own programs for the other sports.  Mount Zion is covered by Dustin Fink, who is employed by HSHS St. Mary’s.
    Decatur Memorial Hospital had provided athletic training services for 12 high schools for several years, offering this service at no or minimal cost.  When DMH became part of Memorial Health System, our intention was to continue this program, even though it was outside the scope of services offered in other MHS communities.

    “Unfortunately, the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic since March have been severe. Like other health systems in Illinois and around the nation, MHS has been forced to examine its programs and make difficult decisions.  We have very reluctantly concluded that we can no longer support the athletic training program as a community benefit.
    “Memorial Health Systems and DMH leaders are committed to providing a smooth transition with the affected schools and have already begun to assist them in locating other resources.
    In early July, I reported that Memorial Health System of Illinois had furloughed Decatur Memorial Hospital’s athletic trainers as part of system-wide furloughs that were taking place because of the financial hit the hospitals were taking from the COVID-19 pandemic that eliminated elective surgeries and other hospital related treatments.
    Now, Memorial announced last Thursday, Sept. 17, it is eliminating DMH’s athletic trainer program, leaving schools scrambling to find someone to cover athletic events.
    We’ve reached out to St. Mary’s asking if it is interested in finding the resources to pick up the athletic training services for these schools and as this is written for the Decatur Tribune website we have not heard back.
    We will have more on this obviously developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


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