Small Town Heart Provides Loving Care With Big-league Effect

December 12, 2022

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In the United States, 1 in 3 public schools have no access to athletic trainers to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate injuries and illnesses for thousands of high school athletes each year. Athletic trainers are the only allied healthcare practitioners trained explicitly in injury prevention for the physically active, as well as patients of all ages, backgrounds and levels of activity. In a long-term effort to support community health, Adventist Health Tillamook provides the community benefit of a full-time athletic trainer and training room to the students at Tillamook High School at no cost to the school district. Athletic trainers that support students can cover a wide range of sports, with particular attention given to activities where acute, overuse and contact injuries are the most prevalent and highest risk.

“Seeing all students as family members, I call all my athletes my kids,” says Jessica Johnson, a certified athletic trainer employed by Adventist Health Tillamook to support Tillamook High School athletics and orthopedic care.

In the position since 2018, Jessica’s impact on the Tillamook community has had an immeasurable effect on the long-term health of student-athletes, where she identifies injuries on the playing field when seconds matter.

Kye Johnson, coach of Tillamook High School’s football team and also Jessica’s husband, relates, “In the 75 years before Tillamook High School had her, they would have historically told student-athletes to ice their injuries or go to a doctor.”

As an athletic trainer on the field or court, Jessica handles all evaluations, diagnoses, emergency care and injury rehabilitation. She also serves as a liaison between the high school and the hospital. If she has an athlete that needs treatment and further evaluation, she helps facilitate appointments with the appropriate healthcare provider, fast-tracking the student to safely rehabilitate and get back in the game as soon as possible.

Jessica’s faith and family are a strong source of inspiration for her. “God calls us to love everyone; part of loving is doing everything you can.” She shares God’s love daily through her training and support of her student-athletes.

As a compassionate caregiver in demanding situations, Jessica sets realistic expectations for her student-athletes for recovery and the future. Recently she had a student who graduated, part of her first group of students from freshmen through graduation. As a freshman, the student had a significant injury; then, later in his senior year, he had another. Working together with this student-athlete through their emotions, disappointment and frustration of not being able to play was hard for the student, but showing them love and compassion while helping them progress through a rehabilitation program to give them the best results was rewarding for everyone. It was difficult for Jessica to watch them hurt, but it was rewarding to work through their emotions, disappointment and frustration together. “Our students face many challenges on and off the court or field, but I see my personal success when I can change minds to lead to more successful health outcomes for students long-term.”

Jessica Johnson, ATC, attending to injured student on field