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Hospital authority turns down BoE contract
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Following the Effingham County Board of Education’s vote to split sports medicine services among two local providers, Effingham Health System has decided it won’t compromise.

Effingham Health System notified the school district Tuesday that it will “respectfully decline to participate in a divisive program, such as has been offered by your Board.”

In a letter to Superintendent Randy Shearouse, Hospital Authority Chairman Rick Rafter wrote, “Effingham Health System’s program has proven successful and effective. It has been well-received by students, parents and coaches. Obviously, the Board’s decision was based on something other than our record of excellence.”

The board of education voted 4-1 on June 21 to split the duties between the two companies, with Effingham Health System providing sports medicine for Effingham County middle and high schools and OptimOrthopedics serving South Effingham middle and high schools. The companies made proposals to the BoE in May, with both offering full-time athletic trainers for the county’s two high schools, along with other sports medicine services.

“Although rejected by the Board, our proposal to provide a comprehensive sports medicine program as presented on May 2, 2012, still stands,” stated the letter from the Hospital Authority. “Based on wise biblical lessons, we choose not to split the baby.”

Shearouse said Thursday that he will recommend at the July 19 school board meeting that Optim be awarded the contract to provide all the sports medicine services for the district.

“The board ultimately would have to make that decision, but Optim is the option we have now since the hospital chose not to accept splitting the two,” Shearouse said.

“Separating the sports medicine program is clearly not in the best interest of the student-athletes of our county,” Effingham Health System CEO Norma Jean Morgan said. “While we want very much to support the school system and we want even more to serve the students in the system, it is imperative that someone take the responsibility of doing what is best for the students.”

Shearouse disagreed that student-athletes would have suffered from the two high schools having different sports medicine providers.

“Based on the proposals given to us, the students are going to receive the services they need from Optim. The proposals were very close,” he said.

The school board meeting July 19 will be just two weeks before the Aug. 1  start of the 2012-13 school year.

“We need to move quickly now because football will be starting,” Shearouse said. “We need to make plans to start moving forward.”

As part of its proposal, OptimOrthopedics touted its ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) computerized concussion evaluation system and its experienced staff. Optim provides athletic training and team physician services for 16 high schools in southeast Georgia and the team physicians for Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah State University and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort.

Despite the disagreement, Morgan said “this decision does not affect other programs that we partner with the county school system.”