Wheeling Hospital to Run Ogden Half Marathon Classic Medical Tent

10:16 am Saturday, May 5, 2018

WHEELING — Wheeling Hospital personnel are gearing up to run the medical tent again for the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon events on May 26.

“It is a great to have Wheeling Hospital as one of our corporate sponsors,” said Joe Lovell, assistant race director. “Wheeling Hospital is the race medal sponsor for the Half Marathon Walk and Run and the 5-K Walk and Run, plus being the medical provider.

“It’s great to have them on board. We could not do it without them having someone on scene to take care of all the runners and walkers,” he said. “It’s great to have someone in our community who is able to step up and do this.”

Dr. James Comerci, director of Wheeling Hospital’s family medicine residency program, is in charge of the medical tent for race day.

Approximately eight physicians and resident physicians will be assigned to handle main triage and the medical tent, Comerci said. The personnel will include sports medicine physicians, family physicians and resident physicians from the hospital’s family medicine center.

Also, staff from Mountain River Physical Therapy will be on hand to provide muscular-skeletal services for race participants.

Prior to the race, information will be available dealing with race preparation, proper nutrition and safety precautions, the medical director said.

“At race time, we also will be responsible for evaluating that the environment continues to be safe with no significant weather issues, construction areas, things like that, so the runners will be safe that day,” said Comerci. “During and immediately after the race, we will be evaluating runners and walkers as they come into the finish area and the general area once they have completed the race.”

In addition, a medical team member and support staff will be sent out onto the race course “to assess anyone who does not appear to be able to complete the race,” he said.

At the medical tent, physicians look primarily for dehydration issues and weather-related problems such as hypothermia on a cold morning or hyperthermia (heatstroke) on a hot, humid day, he said.

“Usually, we don’t see many heart issues or lung issues,” said Comerci. “Occasionally there is (an issue), but people have been training (for the race).

“If the patient appears to need more involved care or urgent care, the Wheeling Fire Department medical squad is always there,” he said. “We transition the patient to the medical squad, then they transport to one or the other hospital.”

Based on past experience, he said, between 10 to 15 people come to the medical tent and medical staff triages and evaluates another 20 to 30 people.

Physical therapists on duty will take care of runners or walkers who experience severe muscle cramping while participating in the race events. “If it’s a high humidity day, there could be a lot of cramping,” said Lovell.

From a medical standpoint, Comerci said, doctors hope for a nice, cool, low-humidity kind of morning.

“The major thing for people is to be aware of the weather that day,” he said. “Making sure they are adequately hydrated coming up to the race is the major issue we want them to look at.”

The race team makes sure that adequate water stations and aid stations are located along the race course, he said.

Last year, the medical provider handed out a brief survey to runners, asking how they prepare for races, such as the amount of formal running they do and any particular nutritional plan they follow.

“The residents are collecting the survey from last year’s race and will do it again this year,” said Comerci.

Wheeling Hospital was the original medical support of the distance race and continued in that role for many years.

“Last year was our return to be the medical provider,” said Comerci.

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