In mid-November, the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Wilmington Health, a leading health care provider in the community, announced a partnership aimed at elevating the standard of health, well-being and performance of student-athletes at the university.
“Wilmington Health already provides care for UNCW student-athletes. This is an expansion of a long-term preexisting collaboration,” UNCW athletics director Michael Oblinger said.
“Wilmington Health has a long history serving as a clinical training site in the UNCW College of Health & Human Services for students pursuing health care degree programs, has been involved in health care degree development and serves as a partner in workforce development initiatives,” he said.
Additionally, Wilmington Health’s providers have a track record of working with UNCW athletic trainers, including students in the master’s athletic training program.
Oblinger collaborated with Alexis Hunter, Wilmington Health’s community liaison, to foster connections between the groups.
“This particular formalization of the partnership with Wilmington Health and UNCW Athletics blossomed organically from ongoing collaborations in the athletic training space, assessment of student-athlete needs and ongoing dialogue between campus and organizational leadership. It really started taking shape this past spring,” Oblinger said.
All 19 NCAA-sponsored intercollegiate sports at UNCW are part of the program. This includes baseball, men’s basketball, men’s cross country/outdoor track and field, men’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, volleyball, beach volleyball, softball, women’s basketball, women’s cross country/indoor/outdoor track and field, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis.
“Wilmington Health providers will spend time on campus educating athletic trainers, coaches and athletes,” Hunter said.
The partnership will encompass three components of health care: comprehensive medical services, sports medicine and performance enhancement programs.
“Our partnership will offer student-athletes access to comprehensive care through all of our departments,” Hunter said.
Oblinger added, “UNCW Athletics will partner closely with the UNCW Health Center and other provider practices in the region, including Wilmington Health, to provide comprehensive medical services for student-athletes.”
Wilmington Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine providers will collaborate with UNCW athletic trainers to ensure athletes are treated quickly and efficiently to receive high-quality sports medicine care.
“The overall health and wellness of the student-athlete is our top priority,” said Chad Fortun, a physician with Wilmington Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. “At Wilmington Health, we are uniquely positioned to offer world-class orthopedic and sports medicine care in addition to our top-notch primary care services and sub-specialties.”
In performance enhancement programs, Wilmington Health is dedicated to backing UNCW Athletics’ nutrition initiatives, officials said.
“Given the prevalent issue of food insecurity in higher education and the demands of achieving elite athletic performance, this partnership stands as a top-tier collaboration,” Hunter said.
UNCW athletes who receive care from Wilmington Health will be seen at Wilmington Health offices and through WH AnyWHere, Wilmington Health’s telehealth program.
Student-athletes will also have access to the practice’s Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) should they need it. ASC surgeons perform same-day preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures across several specialties for generally less complicated procedures that do not require hospitalization.
The Wilmington Health logo was unveiled earlier this month at Trask Coliseum, where it will be visible to basketball game attendees.
“Wilmington Health has been a staple in our community since 1971, and we value our local community, businesses and schools,” Jeff James, CEO of Wilmington Health, said in a news release. “We are honored to provide high-quality care to UNCW’s talented and valued athletes.”
Fortun added, “We look forward to collaborating with coaches and trainers to understand the health needs and gaps in care to ensure UNCW athletes stay up to date on necessary health visits and screenings.”