Dr. David Bernhardt & UW Health Sports Medicine Team Up to Offer Free Physicals to Uninsured High School Athletes

David Bernhardt, MD
David Bernhardt, MD

Dozens of high school athletes may not be allowed to step onto the field or join the huddle this year because many families do not have health insurance to pay for medical physical exams, which are required by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association before the first day of practice.

Eighty-five thousand students will participate in high school athletics this year in Wisconsin. Of those living in Dane County, it’s estimated that two to five percent have no health insurance to pay for these necessary physical exams.

To help student-athletes get into uniform and back in the race, the Dane County Sports Medicine Council is teaming up with UW Health Sports Medicine Center and the MEDIC program, managed by students of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, to offer a free athletic physical clinic on Tuesday, August 14. UW Health physicians, athletic trainers, residents, medical students and Spanish translators will be present at the South Madison Health and Family Center-Harambee at 2202 South Park St. from 6 to 8 p.m. to provide athletic physicals and immunizations.

“This is a nice opportunity to take care of a large group of student athletes who have no health insurance or very limited financial resources,” said Joe Greene, supervisor of athletic training services at the UW Health Sports Medicine Center. “Getting these physicals done in a timely manner helps to keep these young people participating and active at what they like to do.”

Greene and Dr. David Bernhardt, a pediatric sports medicine specialist with UW Health Sports Medicine, will provide medical direction for the clinic. Both are members of the Dane County Sports Medicine Council, the organization that is sponsoring the event. The staff at UW Health Sports Medicine Center has been working with other entities to offer free athletic physicals for several years. Medical student volunteers are coordinated by MEDiC, a registered student organization at the University of Wisconsin.

“This is a great collaborative effort between the hospital staff, medical students and the schools,” Greene said, “and the families and athletes are always very appreciative.” Last year, more than 40 student-athletes in the Madison area attended the clinic.