More about Monument Health

Teams Work

Published July 2021 | In Summer 2021

Since 2012, Monument Health has impacted and improved the lives of student-athletes by providing caregivers to academic institutions.

Teams Work Media

Providers are employed at no cost to the universities, freeing up funds for equipment, scholarships and training facilities.

Black Hills State University

When Black Hills State University transitioned from the NAIA conference to NCAA Division II, the school knew their teams would need more support to remain competitive. They reached out to Monument Health, and the resulting partnership has set the standard for schools in the region.

Sara Chatham, a Monument Health athletic trainer, says the impact she’s seen with the program is huge. “The way our team collaborates and trusts one another makes the athletes feel valued, so they know we’re here for them no matter what. Black Hills State is growing, and this partnership has helped the school grow by helping the athletics programs really excel,” she says.

Athletic Performance Director Kellan Anderson agrees, saying, “the opportunity for us to communicate directly from athletic trainers, to strength coaches, to the physicians, makes a tremendous impact. If one of our athletes is injured, we can all communicate and collaborate seamlessly. Monument Health donating resources to the university really lets us take care of the teams in a way we otherwise couldn’t.”

The partnership also gives the training and medical staff opportunities outside their normal practice. Team Physician Ray Jensen, D.O., says, “we have continuing conversations about the overall health of the players and the teams, and we look to help them train, compete, and recover as efficiently as possible. Working with young, competitive athletes also keeps our team in touch with innovative care techniques and emerging technologies we probably wouldn’t see otherwise.” The partnership opens avenues for Monument Health professionals to bring emerging technology to the colleges, but also to our communities.

“I think all student-athletes looking to compete at the collegiate level consider the sports performance and sports medicine care as an essential part of their athletic experience. It plays a huge role in the decision to commit to and return to institutions that provide quality sports medicine programs. Our partnership with Monument Health has given us state-of-the-art sports performance training programs, sports medicine care, injury evaluation and prevention and pre- and post-injury rehabilitation. They help us provide the best health, safety and overall wellness possible for our student-athletes, which in turn boosts our entire athletic department.”

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science, and technology universities. Their partnership with Monument Health means student athletes are prepared not only for competition, but for balancing athletics with the rigorous curriculum and heavy course loads unique to their university.

The resources Monument Health brings to the school’s athletics department allows for specific treatment plans that help athletes recover quickly. Team Physician Hollan Harper, D.O., says, “a partnership like this allows for on-site care and quick turnaround times for injuries, which keeps these competitive athletes out of play for the shortest possible duration.”

The partnership has also resulted in vast improvements in consistency of care. Associate Team Physician Darshan Patel, M.D., says, “we provide care from the initial visit through physical therapy, surgery, or anything else. We take care of every aspect of their treatment; it builds trust and makes them more willing to participate in their care.” Athletes are now able to see the same team of professionals every day, and the system has already paid dividends. Team Physician Joseph Humpherys, D.O., says, “We recently had an athlete with a major injury, and watching him fight back into a starting spot and eventually sign with an NFL team was hugely rewarding.”

Collegiate athletes at South Dakota Mines aren’t the only ones who benefit from the school’s partnership with Monument Health. Brock Behrndt, Director of Sports Performance at South Dakota Mines, says, “Last winter we hosted a high school softball clinic; because of our partnership with Monument Health, we were able to have better staffing and a level of excellence that might not happen with just our own resources.” It’s clear the partnership not only propels South Dakota Mines’ athletic performance forward, it also increases the level of civic involvement in communities served by Monument Health.

“We have a challenging curriculum at South Dakota Mines, so it’s important that the student-athletes we recruit to our teams understand there’s something bigger than sports. What the ball does to the athlete is more important than what the athlete does to the ball. Most of our athletes are doing something other than going on to professional athletics; our coaches understand that, and Monument Health understands that. We work together to do everything we can to set them up for success. Monument Health helps us meet our goal to recruit, retain, graduate and place each student, but also to make sure they succeed no matter where they go after Mines.”

Chadron State College 

In January of this year, Chadron State College became the latest school to partner with Monument Health. With 12 varsity programs including football, softball and rodeo, the school is already seeing results from their partnership with Monument Health.

Making sure athletes receive high-quality training helps prevent injuries before they happen. Chase McLendon, Chadron’s Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning, says, “having more staff means each of us can focus on our specific role. The athletes get individualized training, which better prepares them for their sport and helps them prevent getting injured in the future.”

Injuries happen less frequently with top-notch training, but when they do, the team has streamlined the athletes’ care. Allison Curtis, an athletic trainer at Chadron State College, says, “this partnership has helped our athletes get faster, quality care for athletic injuries now that we have more full-time athletic trainers.” Karen Stone, also an athletic trainer employed by Monument Health, agrees: “Monument Health’s Orthopedics team makes sure athletes are seen quickly, whether that’s getting imaging done, being seen in the clinic or having surgery. Our athletes are able to return to play much quicker because of this partnership.”

One of the most important aspects of the partnership is the personalized nature of the care the athletes receive. Team Physician Brian Shelmadine, D.O., says, “we try to not only treat the injury before us, but look at the athlete as a whole to see if there are underlying issues that lead to the injury or can be addressed to help them return sooner. This may be identifying an underlying biomechanical deficiency, strength imbalance, poor nutrition or even poor sleep.” This whole-person approach to injury care and prevention means Chadron State’s teams can compete at a higher level, and is made possible through the school’s partnership with Monument Health.

“This is our first year partnering with Monument Health, but we’re already seeing changes in both coverage of and service to our athletes. With the strength coach and two trainers provided by Monument Health, we are able to provide full coverage of all our sports, and enhance conditioning and rehabilitation for our athletes. We currently have 315 athletes, and this partnership greatly enhances our ability to provide quality medical services to them. Monument Health has been instrumental in providing an edge for Chadron State in recruiting and retaining athletes, not to mention staying competitive in our conference."

The Bigger Picture

Monument Health provides caregivers to three universities and 10 high schools in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. Not only do athletes stay healthy and compete at a higher level, providing these services at no cost allows schools to allocate funds to scholarships, facility maintenance, technology upgrades and student support programs.

Monument Health’s mission is to make a difference. Every day. This statement isn’t taken lightly, and its impact stretches into every corner of the organization; even in areas most people don’t realize.