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A Playbook for a Safe Return to Fall Sports

Posted by Matt Hoeppner, PA-C
Physician Assistant, HNH Fitness on October 19, 2020

Matt Hoeppner, Physician Assistant, HNH Fitness

I leave for work in the dark with the crisp air gripping my face. This means fall is here and so, too, is the return to academics and sports. This year brings the twist of a pandemic ripping through our country, impacting how we live our day-to-day lives. I think of the skills that lead to success in the ER: Organize the environment. Control the controllables. Separate the sick from the well. These concepts, I find, apply universally more now than ever.

At Holy Name Medical Center, we have been partnering with area schools, assisting in their return to campus and developing sports policies and procedures. Among these schools is academic and sports powerhouse Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell. We have been planning the safest possible return with their administrators for months, and now the fruit of our collective labor comes to bear. What does it look like? It’s comprehensive. Let’s take a snapshot.

Vigilance is Key

Each day at Bergen Catholic, students, student-athletes, and staff are monitored for symptoms of and exposure to COVID-19 using an electronic questionnaire. As long as these questionnaires do not identify any problems, the students and staff arrive on campus at dedicated times to continue the screening with state-of-the-art, facial recognition-enabled thermometers. Masks and social distancing techniques remain in effect for all but high-intensity aerobic sport activities. When masks are removed, the activity must be outside, and social distancing continues.

If any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 are revealed, our robust screening process leads to convenient and quick PCR testing by Holy Name. Thankfully, the virus has not circulated on campus, but should it happen, our processes should contain it. The silver lining of our screening system is catching alternative diagnoses that require timely treatment and having the ability to streamline that process.

Telemedicine and Treatment

Within the Bergen Catholic athletics program, I also provide direct medical support using Holy Name's NorthJerseyTelemedicine.com and in-person visits at HNH Fitness in Oradell. I consult with their athletic trainers and leverage Holy Name's network of specialists to ensure seamless evaluation and treatment of injuries that require a longer period of care.

A safe and successful school year and sports season go beyond each individual student. The entire Bergen Catholic community of students, staff, athletes, family, and friends have access to this level of care. Telemedicine appointments can easily be booked at NorthJerseyTelemedicine.com

With our shared systematic approach and the comprehensive medical services of Holy Name Medical Center, Bergen Catholic has the best odds of school and sports marching forward this year.

Environment organized. Controllables controlled. Our community can focus on family, academics, and performance, while at Holy Name and HNH Fitness, we make the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, and community our top priority.

Matthew Hoeppner, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant at HNH Fitness, Holy Name's center for personal health, fitness, and wellness, located in Oradell. He was nominated to New Jersey Family 2019 NJ Favorite Kids' Docs. In addition to managing HNH Fitness' Prescription for Wellness program, he provides acute and urgent care for children and adult patients with strains and sprains, broken bones, lacerations and burns, colds and flu, gastrointestinal problems, and breathing issues. Matt earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences at the University of Connecticut and his Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. To make an appointment with him, visit holyname.org/hoeppner or call 973-619-9229.