Central FC lifts the bar in medical care for players

Sharks covered by Bankers Insurance

Photo shows (from left to right): Central FC managing director Brent Sancho, goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, Lab Medica Group CEO Richard Ramrekha, and team doctor Tonya Welch.

Friday 5 September 2014

Medical screenings, inclusive of electrocardiograms (ECGs), were conducted on Central FC’s professional team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Thursday as the club puts priority on the health of its valuable assets – the players.

Funded by Bankers Insurance, the medical screenings, inclusive of ECGs, which records the electrical activity of the heart, were conducted by HealthNet’s staff, equipped with a fully functional mobile unit.

Central FC owner/managing director Brent Sancho also used a media conference, which coincided with the medical screenings, to announce Bankers Insurance as the club’s new Players’ Insurance partner.

The agreement will see Bankers Insurance cover the professional team with a group personal accident policy for up to $25,000 in medical, even covering players during travel to and from training and matches, and a minimum of $100,000 in life coverage.

And to top it off, Bankers Insurance would also purchase an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which uses electrical pulses or shocks to help control life-threatening arrhythmias, especially those that can cause sudden cardiac arrest.

“My biggest worry was one of the club’s players suffering a heart attack at training and dying before the staff could get the player lifesaving treatment,” said Sancho.

He said that while clubs must provide an ambulance for their home games, complete with defibrillator, there is no defibrillator at training.

The 2006 T&T World Cup defender said he was staggered when Bankers Insurance CEO Vance Gabriel said that the company would also purchase a defibrillator for Central FC.

“I truly hope that we never have to use this item (defibrillator),” said Sancho. “But the peace of mind that it will give our staff and players will be invaluable.

“While Central FC strive to be the best team on the field, we are proud to lead the way off the field, and through the help of sponsors such as Bankers Insurance, Health Net and SIS (Super Industrial Services), we want to continue giving our players the best care and facilities in Caribbean professional football.”
Central FC defender Keion Goodridge during his medical screening
Commenting on the medical screenings, inclusive of ECGs, Sancho said, “This has always been something we, as a club, have wanted to do. But this last year has really pushed it from a ‘want’ to a priority.”

Sancho reminded, “Almost twelve months ago, September 25, 2013, former Central FC defender, 22-year-old Akeem Adams, suffered a heart attack after training with his club Ferencváros in Hungary.

“Akeem was a fighter and despite having his left leg amputated, and being too weak for a heart transplant, our nation watched him battle to survive for three months. Sadly, Akeem passed away on December 30.

“On February 28 this year, another Trinidad and Tobago international, 30-year-old Kevon Carter suffered a massive heart attack after complaining of chest pains during training with Defence Force (FC). Although army medical staff stabilised Kevon, he passed away on route to hospital.”

Sancho even pointed out that only last month (August), T&T Women’s Team striker, 25-year-old Kennya Cordner had to be withdrawn from a game during the recent Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championship after an irregular heartbeat was noted by the team’s physiotherapist.

He added, “Thankfully, Kennya received a full examination, including an ECG and was pronounced fit to go on and help the T&T Women to win the CFU Championship.

“It can never be clear that the kind of screenings that we see here today could have diagnosed these conditions in advance,” continued the Central boss during a media conference, which coincided with the medical screenings. “But as our experts will [say], the chances are that they may have.”

Central FC and T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, a close friend to both Adams and Carter, said he shed tears upon learning of both deaths, and now his tears (although not visible) are of joy.

The T&T custodian applauded the efforts by the management and medical staff of Central FC but would like other clubs to take note.

Among the players benefiting from the medical screenings was Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, who plays her club football with Central FC Women’s Team.

President/CEO of Lab Medica Group, the parent company of HealthNet, Richard Ramrekha highlighted, “It is the primary health care initiative of which we have to focus on to ensure that we don’t get down to those chronic emergency or tertiary scenarios. A lot of the incidents that happen, even in the football fraternity, such as the sad cases we’ve had… maybe it could have been medicated if there was the proper preventative care approach to those scenarios. Maybe those cases could have been detected if there were screenings, if preventative medicals were done, and who knows, maybe a couple of those guys would still be around today.”

Ramrekha also used the opportunity to launch the MyCard Sport, a medical and merchant discount card, which offers cardholders discounts on doctor visits, lab tests, ultrasounds, physiotherapy and ECGs to name a few.

Ramrekha said that sporting organizations should encourage athletes to do what is necessary to ensure that the they are medically fit, and medically cleared to engage in such vigorous sports, and that the MyCard Sport is a medium for affordable private health care.

Central FC’s team doctor Tonya Welch said, “Professionals make sure that their instruments are at optimum condition. The instrument of the athlete is their body. And I say everyday, to become a professional athlete; you need to make sure that your body is at optimum.

Dr Welch added, “I strongly believe that this (Central FC medical screenings) is going to change the medical landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, and I hope that this will be the beginning of an initiative and a drive for athletes in T&T to be well taken care of. Athletes in our country are role models, athletes in our country make us proud at international level so therefore it is our responsibility, not only us as citizens, but the government of T&T as well as sponsors to ensure that we take care of them.”