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Meritus Athletic Trainer Program helps students get back in the game

Tracy Kloos said it’s tough as a parent to watch your child play a sport knowing there’s a chance she might get hurt. But when that situation actually happened to Kloos’ daughter, Mackenzie, she said she was fortunate to have Meghan Gray there to care for her daughter. Gray is an athletic trainer with Meritus Health, which is contracted by Washington County Public Schools to work with its student athletes and coaches throughout the school year. “Had I not had Meghan there, Mackenzie would have had her season end at that point,” Kloos said. The point guard dislocated her shoulder twice in two separate games playing for the Williamsport High School Wildcats. What is the Meritus Athletic Trainer Program? The Meritus athletic trainers undergo expert training, are certified and licensed allied healthcare professionals onsite to treat the “athletic injury” for the student-athletes. As part of the Meritus team, they offer coordination of care that ensures student athletes get the healthcare they need when they need it. As part of the largest healthcare provider in the region, the trainers give immediate care to students at WCPS high schools, said Amber Shatzer-Moats, the athletic training program supervisor. But don’t let the program’s name fool you. Shatzer-Moats said she has worked with band and theater students, too. “We are responsible for anyone in the school who might need us,” she said. “We provide a lot of education and sharing of information with parents to coordinate care,” Shatzer-Moats said. “But our goal is to get the students back on the field. We are here to support them from injury to recovery, while working with a variety of healthcare providers. We are a team.” The athletic trainers are supported by Meritus Sports Medicine and Geoffrey Sanyi, D.O., and there are plans to expand the program. Meritus Sports Medicine is set to open a new location providing athletic training and rehabilitation at the Valley Mall later this spring. How did the athletic trainer help Mackenzie? The team was facing Brunswick High School at home when Mackenzie was fighting for a jump ball against another player. Her arm got caught in the tangle, Gray said. “I could see it pop out from across the court,” she said. “But she didn’t completely dislocate it. She partially subluxed it; where it came out slightly and popped right back into place.” Play was stopped, and Kloos said Gray took Mackenzie to the training room and checked her range of motion and put her through other tests. Though she was still able to move her arm, Gray and Mackenzie’s coach decided it was best for the senior to sit out the rest of the game. In fact, she didn’t play or practice for nearly a week. And when she did practice, Kloos said Gray was there watching and evaluating her. When Mackenzie was cleared to play again, Gray had a specific plan for playing time and watched Mackenzie while she was on the court. But then came the game at North Hagerstown High School. Mackenzie’s shoulder was hit off a screen and fully dislocated this time. Gray was at that game and took Mackenzie off the court to check her. What followed was two hard weeks of rehabilitation and treatments after school to get her ready to return to play for her team's playoffs. Mackenzie worked with Gray at Williamsport High after classes. Gray put her through a multitude of different range of motion stretching and exercises to return her motion to normal and to build her strength in that shoulder. Kloos sat out several games but slowly began to take part in drills during practices and then warming up with her team for games. "She needs to trust her own body again and know that she can do it, know what it feels like to do the things she requires of her shoulder," Gray said.​ What mattered most? The goal, Kloos said, was to make sure Mackenzie could play her last regular-season game on Senior Night, again against North Hagerstown High. Mackenzie did play, although it was for only about five minutes and with a well-taped shoulder. And again, Gray was there to keep an eye on her shoulder. With a record of 15-7, the Wildcats made it into the MPSSAA Regional Semi-Finals against Middletown High School. Kloos played a large portion of her final playoff game, but unfortunately, they lost in that round. But Mackenzie was invited to play in the 2024 Roundball Classic’s Girls Shooting Stars Game on March 23. She was the only girls’ player from Williamsport invited. The plan is for Mackenzie to see a specialist to examine her shoulder, now that the season is over. “As a parent, it’s really hard,” Kloos said. “I had all the trust in the world in Meghan in all she had done for Mackenzie. She missed a chunk of games, but she got to play in the ones that mattered to her.” To learn more about Meritus Sports Medicine, visit www.meritushealth.com/SportsMedicine.


Meritus Today

Meritus president and CEO to chair board of Maryland Physicians Care

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The Board of Directors of Maryland Physicians Care, a locally managed care organization that provides insurance and health benefits to vulnerable and low-income community members, has named Meritus Health President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr. P.H., chair of the board. “It is an honor to be named chair of MPC, which has been helping to make receiving health care possible for many across the state of Maryland,” Joshi said. “Everyone deserves access to the health services they need. MPC allows so many of our neighbors to access health and dental care, resources and health education. The health of our communities relies on neighbors being able to afford needed care.” Maryland Physicians Care is jointly owned by Meritus Health, Ascension Saint Agnes, Holy Cross Health and UPMC Western Maryland. Its goal is to ensure that Maryland Medicaid recipients have access to quality healthcare services while also promoting preventive care and wellness initiatives. MPC has more than 240,000 members. Over the last 12 months, MPC has donated more than $2 million to its local owners’ communities. These donations have targeted social determinants of health and provider access issues within these communities. The donations include: Meritus Health in Hagerstown, Md. — $75,000 to Horizon Goodwill Inc. in part to support the health hub on North Prospect Street in downtown Hagerstown. The building, owned by Horizon Goodwill, features a Meritus primary care office, as well as a job training facility. Plans call for a grocery store, filling a crucial need in the downtown area. Also donated was $200,000 toward the creation of the Meritus Mental Health Walk-In Care center. The facility on the Meritus Medical Center campus is a partnership between the health system and Brook Lane, serving as a crucial resource for individuals aged 6 and older. The center caters to children, adolescents and adults facing mild-to-moderate mental health crises. Ascension Saint Agnes in Baltimore — $675,000 to Roberta’s House for school-based grief and emotional wellness programs; $60,000 to UEmpower of Maryland to support The Food Project; $150,000 to Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake for its Excel Center training; $40,000 to support Saint Joseph’s Monastery Parish’s community outreach; and $75,000 to Action in Maturity for an ADA compliant vehicle. Holy Cross Health – Montgomery County — $450,000 to Primary Care Coalition to complement Nexus Montgomery workforce development by providing wrap-around services to address social needs of the students. UPMC Western Maryland in Cumberland, Md. — $120,588 to Western Maryland Food Bank for food assistance and roof repairs; $25,000 to the Allegany County Department of Social Services for food assistance and holiday meals; $30,000 to the Salvation Army in Cumberland to assist with medical travel outside of the greater Cumberland area; $25,000 to the Union Rescue Mission in Cumberland for food assistance; and $50,000 to Associated Charities of Cumberland for medication assistance. “MPC is very excited to have Dr. Maulik Joshi as our new chairman of the Board of Directors,” said Jason Rottman, CEO of MPC. “Dr. Joshi brings a wealth of knowledge to this role with extensive experience in the healthcare industry. Dr. Joshi’s commitment to serving the community and, in particular, the Medicaid population, fits perfectly with the MPC’s mission. I look forward to the ideas and energy he will bring to the role.”


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Meritus in the top 1.5% nationwide of hospitals giving back

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Nonprofit hospitals are exempt from paying most federal, state and local taxes in exchange for providing free or discounted care and programs that address community health needs — things like substance use treatment, food, transportation and mobile clinics.  A new report from the Lown Institute, an independent healthcare think tank, finds that Meritus Medical Center spent more on financial assistance and community investment than the estimated value of its tax exemption in 2021, giving the hospital what the Institute calls a “fair share” surplus. Meritus Medical Center is among only 20 percent of nonprofit hospitals nationwide to have such a surplus, and in the top 1.5 percent for the amount of additional spending for community benefit. This is the second year in a row that Meritus was in the top 1.5 percent of all nonprofit hospitals the Lown Institute ranked. The vast majority of hospitals in Lown’s study did not meet their obligations as nonprofit entities. According to the most recent data available, Meritus spent $27 million more than the estimated value of its tax exemption on charity care and community investment. “We never turn away a patient who needs care,” explained Meritus President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “As the community’s largest provider of free care, we believe supporting charity care, educational initiatives and other forms of community benefit are the way we live our mission of improving the health of the community.” “Hospitals increasingly recognize the importance of going beyond their walls to improve community health,” said Vikas Saini, M.D., president of the Lown Institute. “These hospitals are leading the way in essential community health investments.” Lown calculated Fair Share Spending by comparing the estimated value of hospitals’ tax exemptions to the amount spent on financial assistance and meaningful community investment — including community health improvement activities, cash and in-kind contributions to community groups, community building activities, and subsidized health services. Data was sourced from IRS Form 990 for fiscal year ending 2021. Only private, nonprofit hospitals with available IRS tax filings were included.

Have the conversation: April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day

Talking about the end of your life is not comfortable. But it’s a conversation worth having to make sure your loved ones or health professionals know what you want to happen to you when you aren’t able to speak for yourself. April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day to make, discuss and document future healthcare wishes and decisions in your advance care planning, also known as advance directives. Meritus Health offers free guidance and documents to help with this planning, be it for yourself or someone in your care. What is an advance directive? An advance directive is a legal document that provides instructions for end-of-life care and spells out whether life-sustaining treatment should be withdrawn or withheld when a person is dying or permanently unconscious. Susan Lyons, nurse practitioner and supervisor of supportive and palliative care at Meritus Medical Center, views advance directives as “if-then” documents. “If I’m in a terminal condition and cannot speak for myself, then these are the medical treatments I do or do not desire,” Lyons explained. She said these legal documents are important and often overlooked.  All adults should consider documenting their wishes, regardless of health or age. When should I start the conversation about advance directives? Start the conversation now, she said. The best time to complete an advance directive is when you’re healthy and the discussion is neutral or removed from an illness or devastating medical condition. An appropriate time might be when a family member or friend has experienced a life-changing or life-ending event. Use a blank advance directive form as a conversation guide with your family or doctor. Online advance planning forms are available at https://www2.meritushealth.com/files/adirective.pdf. Who is in charge of my advance directives? Appoint a health care agent or power of attorney, Lyons said. The first part of the advance directive allows you to indicate a medical proxy, the person you choose to make health care decisions when you cannot. Select someone who understands your values, stays calm in crisis situations and speaks up to ask difficult questions. What is a living will? Define what matters to you the most, Lyons said. The second part of the advance directive is called the living will and it offers an opportunity to discuss what you value at the end of life. The document “speaks” for you when you cannot speak for yourself if you ever have a serious medical condition that physicians believe is not survivable. “The living will allows you to tell us what your wishes are about certain mechanical or artificial means of support,” Lyons said. “A lot of people have really strong feelings about things like breathing machines and feeding tubes.” The document also allows you to dictate whether you want the support of a hospital-based medical team, or if you’d prefer to die at home with your beloved pet by your side. If you wish to die in your own home, an advance directive may eliminate unwanted hospitalizations, but fulfilling that wish requires the support of a home hospice agency and round-the-clock supervision by family and/or friends. Talk about who would be a part of a “home care support team.” When do advance directives become valid? Sign the advance directive and share it, Lyons said. An advance directive becomes legally valid when you sign the document. However, it typically goes into effect when the doctor in charge of your care decides that you have lost the ability to make informed decisions about your health care. In Maryland, the document must be witnessed by two individuals, but it does not require a notarized signature or the involvement of an attorney. After completing the advance directive, give a signed copy to your family and friends who will be involved in your care, your health care agent and your primary care physician. Decisions about end-of-life care are deeply personal and emotional, but starting a conversation and putting forth your wishes now will create peace at a time when it’s needed the most. To learn more about advance directives or to find related documents, go to https://www.meritushealth.com/about/patients-visitors/advance-directives.


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