Willis-Knighton partnership boosts Caddo Parish athletics

MORE UPGRADES:  Recent renovations to Lee Hedges Stadium will be followed by more extensive upgrades enabled by a new agreement with Willis-Knighton Health System, Caddo Parish Schools officials said Monday. (Photo by LEE HILLER, Journal Sports)

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Willis-Knighton Health System has a rich history of support for Caddo Parish Public Schools through grants, programs and resources. 

That commitment has increased over the last 15 years as Willis-Knighton became the primary sports medicine provider for several district schools. On Monday, Caddo Parish Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree announced the district reached a historic agreement with Willis-Knighton. The agreement makes Willis-Knighton the exclusive sports medicine provider for the next 10 years at all Caddo high schools. 

In addition, the healthcare system has pledged up to $3 million to fund much-needed upgrades to Lee Hedges Stadium including restrooms, locker rooms, medical exam rooms and other accommodations.

The facility hosts football, soccer and track competition for local schools and is a home venue for the two largest schools, Captain Shreve and Byrd, while hosting other Caddo Parish schools for games.

“Willis-Knighton has a lengthy history with Caddo Schools in working with our system to provide for the needs of our students, staff and families,” Dr. Goree said. “This partnership builds on the successes we have seen over the years and unites Willis-Knighton and Caddo Schools together in a powerful way that ensures quality and continuity in medical services for our students and facility improvements that quite frankly would be difficult to otherwise realize without the generosity of Willis-Knighton.”

Willis-Knighton will not only continue its high-quality care of athletes but plans to increase services including athletic trainers and physical therapists to provide comprehensive care.

The healthcare giant also agreed to provide updated, state-of-the-art defibrillators for all high schools. 

“Willis-Knighton is proud to support all the student athletes in Caddo Parish, helping keep them healthy, manage injuries and speed recovery. This partnership with Caddo Parish is consistent with our commitment to improve the health and well-being of our community,” said Jaf Fielder, president and CEO of Willis-Knighton Health System.

With all Caddo high schools having access to these advanced sports medicine professionals, Fielder said Willis-Knighton’s partnership keeps students at schools without the need for athletes to leave campus to receive medical attention. 

Over the last 15 years, Willis-Knighton has developed a strong relationship with several Caddo Parish schools providing sports medicine coverage to their student athletes. The athletic training services come at no cost to schools or athletes. Athletic trainers provide care to student athletes year-round based on the needs of the students and the school. Additionally, Willis-Knighton provides pre-season physicals at no cost to schools or athletes, even at campuses with no previous partnership with the healthcare system. 

Above and beyond serving the needs of students, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Callanan, medical director of the sports medicine program, also offers student athletes a free injury clinic on Saturdays during football season.  Dr. Callanan spoke praises of the milestone agreement and what it means for students moving forward.

“This is a landmark contract which embodies the dedication that Willis Knighton has to the healthcare of this community. This will ensure continued medical access and care to a large number of student athletes in the greater Shreveport/Bossier area. Our sports medicine team of trainers, therapists and physicians are honored to be able to continue serving this community and providing the highest quality of care.”