Horsemen’s Health System Update On Operational Protocols

The Horsemen’s Health System, funded by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club, has been a major success since its launch more than six years ago. The MedStar Health doctors who are on site at Maryland Thoroughbred tracks on all live racing days have provided an invaluable service for the jockey colony, backstretch workers, trainers and racetrack employees—and even saved lives through proactive measures.

The Horsemen’s Health System physicians specialize in sports medicine but several also have family practices under MedStar Health. Their contributions to the Maryland racing industry are just part of their overall schedules. The MTHA sincerely thanks Drs. Kelly Ryan, Jason Pothast, Joseph Brodine and Christian Glaser, as well as others who have manned the racetrack medical offices over the years, for providing such an important service.

In order to maximize the services provided by the Horsemen’s Health Systems, it’s necessary that protocol be followed. The medical office at Laurel Park also serves as the horsemen’s office for those doing business during live racing, unlike a regular medical office.

MedStar Health has a contract with the MTHA and MJC. When the doctors arrive each day, their first priority is to visit the jockeys’ room before the live racing program begins. Many of them also like, when possible, to be outside watching races in case there is an incident on the track.

Ryan said it is very important for patients to make appointments through MTHA Director of Operations Diana Pinones, except in cases of emergency at the racetrack. She said it is preferred that patients be seen after the first race—it currently goes off at 12:05 p.m.—and before the end of the last race.

“It’s recommended they call ahead, and if they are sick, they should let us know so we bring them right back to the (medical office) when they arrive,” Ryan said. “It’s also important to know we are limited on what we can do here, depending on the symptoms.”

Ryan also said anyone who is prescribed medications through the Horsemen’s Health System must see one of the doctors before prescriptions are refilled, unless the doctor tells them otherwise.

“Sometimes we make adjustments to medication prescriptions, if for instance there are side effects,” Ryan said. “We also follow up and may recommend bloodwork. There can be confusion over what the patient thinks they are taking and what the doctor thinks they are taking, which can result in the patient getting the wrong dose.”

The Horsemen’s Health System does keep tetanus shots on hand, and as of late November had a few flu vaccines remaining. The racing community is encouraged to visit the annual Health Fair in October at Laurel each year to get flu shots.

Regarding injuries sustained in the barn area during training hours, everyone should be reminded that the track ambulance and EMTs must remain in the chute in case of an emergency during training. The current policy for stable area injuries is to call 911 and notify the stable gate an ambulance is on its way. It is also important to provide the barn number to security at the stable gate.

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