Washburn University and Stormont Vail Health have agreed to a partnership that will make Stormont the official sports medicine provider for Washburn athletics.
WU president Jerry Farley and Stormont Vail CEO Randy Peterson announced the partnership Tuesday in a news conference in Washburn’s McPherson booster room.
“It’s an important day for us,” Farley said. “We believe in high-quality athletics. We believe in our students. We want to make certain that our students have the best opportunity as possible for them to succeed, and sometimes they need some help with that.
“Whether it be twisting an ankle or something serious they need to take care of, we need to make sure we’re providing the best possible environment for all our athletes. We’re fortunate that here in Topeka we have an outstanding medical community. We have outstanding physicians that are available to our athletes, and we’re making sure that we give them the best opportunity, if something dreadful happens, to have the best care possible.”
Peterson said the partnership with Washburn will strengthen an already strong relationship between Stormont Vail and Washburn.
“In Topeka, sometimes we struggle a little bit with community pride,” he said. “There’s two things in this town that are really, really good, and that’s education and health care. I think it’s ironic today that those two pillars are coming together in this kind of a partnership.”
The booster room was filled with Stormont Vail personnel, including doctors Ryan Tomlins, Brian Wilson, Brad Poole and Peter Lepse.
“I think with this team here, the winning record at Washburn is going to improve,” Peterson said with a smile. “I can see league championships this year in football and basketball and many other sports because of this relationship. So if that happens, you heard it here first.”
The partnership between Stormont and Washburn is particularly meaningful for Tomlins, a former point guard for the Ichabods from 1999-2003. Tomlins is now a non-operative orthopedics and sports medicine physician with Stormont.
“This is a very special day for our practice, but a really special day for me,” Tomlins said. “I spent a lot of time on the other side of those windows right there (Lee Arena). Being able to come back and pay it forward is a special thing.”
Washburn athletic trainer John Burns said the partnership with Stormont Vail will be an asset in terms of consistency and coordination of care.
“The biggest thing that this partnership does is it creates a unified team and really improves the communication from the athletic training on the field all the way to medical care, surgical care and (recovery), ” Burns said. “It also gives us a huge network of resources should we have obscure things happen.”
The terms of the partnership will last for five years with an opportunity to extend the agreement. It goes into effect in two weeks.