A foundation affiliated with the company that owns rural hospitals in mid-Missouri’s Fulton and Mexico has provided free physicals to about 50 student-athletes in Montgomery City and Wellsville. The two towns are east of Columbia.

Noble Health Foundation executive director Elijah Haahr, Montgomery County R-II activities director Adam Falloon and Noble Health Dr. Chen at the free Montgomery County sports physicals on August 4, 2021 (photo courtesy of Mr. Haahr)

Noble Health Foundation executive director Elijah Haahr, a former Missouri House Speaker, says sports physicals are a top priority for superintendents, who worry about the cost and availability of them for students.

“When I came on board to be the executive director of the foundation, I did a multi-week tour around Callaway, Audrain, Montgomery counties in our contiguous area. Met with all the superintendents and just said hey, what kind of needs do you have that a foundation can be helpful with,” Haahr says.

Haahr was named to the position in May. He emphasizes that the physicals are aimed at minimizing the risk of severe injuries that underlying health issues may cause. He says Noble’s Dr. Chen performed a thorough physical and medical exam for each athlete last week.

“One of the most interesting things is we had, our doctor had a couple of students that had particularly high blood pressure and he’s like hey I need to talk to the parents. This might be something that you want to get checked out so there’s definitely a medical aspect to it as well as just getting them checked out for athletics,” says Haahr.

He says the free physicals provide the students with an opportunity to play sports, and remain healthy when they do it.

Haahr notes that in 2019, a Joplin high school sophomore collapsed during football practice and died at a hospital. Joplin television station KODE reported in September 2019 that the player, Kadin Roberts-Day, suffered cardiac arrest.

Haahr says the physicals identify and address pre-existing conditions so students can play more safely and prevent injury.

“We do an eye check, we check their blood pressure, check their height, weight, a variety of different joint manipulations to make sure everything is sort of in good working order,” Haahr says.

Former Speaker Haahr tells Missourinet that Noble may own more rural hospitals by the end of the year. He says that as Noble grows, so will the foundation. He says Noble is investing millions of dollars into the Fulton and Mexico hospitals.

Haahr, who grew up on a family farm, emphasizes the term relocalizing health care. That’s a major theme of Noble.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Noble Health Foundation executive director Elijah Haahr, which was recorded on August 4, 2021:

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