Southeast Missouri State Partners with SoutheastHEALTH for Comprehensive Student Healthcare Services


Southeast Missouri State University and SoutheastHEALTH announced a collaborative partnership today in which SoutheastHEALTH will serve as comprehensive providers of orthopedic and sports medicine services for the University’s NCAA Division I athletics program, its intramural and club sport participants and for the University’s performing arts students.

Under the agreement, SoutheastHEALTH orthopedic and sports medicine physicians will provide orthopedic, primary medical care, athletic training and physical therapy services, and will invest in the University by providing diagnostic equipment and athletic training supplies, as well as scholarships for students.

SoutheastHEALTH orthopedists Dr. Anthony McPherron, Dr. Matthew Baker and Dr. Charity Jacobs and SoutheastHEALTH sports medicine physician Dr. Andrew Lawrence will begin serving as the official team physicians of Southeast Missouri State with the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. The University entered into the agreement after issuing a Request for Proposals earlier this summer for comprehensive management of student participant healthcare services.

From left are Ken Bateman, SoutheastHEALTH President and CEO; Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University; Brady Barke, director of Southeast Athletics; Dr. Anthony McFerron, chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and director of Sports Medicine for SoutheastHEALTH; Dr. Andrew Lawrence, director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at SoutheastHEALTH Orthopedics and Sports Medicine; Mike Buck, director of Recreation Services at the University; and Rhonda Weller-Stilson, dean of the Holland College of Arts and Media.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for two organizations in this community to come together to provide value-added services for our University students, and we are honored to have SoutheastHEALTH on board with these efforts,” said Dr Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “This lays the groundwork not only for our NCAA Division I student-athletes but also our students participating in intramurals and club sports and in our performing arts programs to receive first-rate medical care right here on campus. We are thrilled to enter into this partnership with SoutheastHEALTH and are proud to entrust the care of our students to their experienced team of physicians.”

This is the first time the University has contracted with a group for comprehensive medical services for its student-athletes and performers. For many years, Advanced Orthopedic Specialists provided care for the University’s NCAA Division I athletes, but continuity of care was not provided by the same group for the University’s intramural, club sports and performing arts students.

“This is a game changer for our Athletics program, as it demonstrates our commitment to the health and well-being of our student-athletes,” said Brady Barke, director of Southeast Athletics. “I believe this relationship will create the premier Sports Medicine program in the Ohio Valley Conference and one of the more comprehensive approaches to healthcare of any program our size.”

SoutheastHEALTH President and CEO Ken Bateman said SoutheastHEALTH and Southeast Missouri State University have a longstanding and valued relationship.

“This newest partnership is especially exciting for us,” he said. “It allows us to meet the needs of a new community – student athletes and performers – and is another example of how collaborations make both participants involved stronger. We are honored to have earned this opportunity.”

Southeast Director of Athletics Brady Barke

Brady Barke said Southeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine will serve the best interests of the University as he outlined the scope of services the group will offer. SoutheastHEALTH, he said, will provide medical coverage at all home and select away athletic events, and at Southeast theatre and dance performances. He said the collaborative effort with Southeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine “will better serve a cross-section of Southeast students, improve their performance on the field and on stage and assist them with injury prevention and rehabilitation.”

According to Barke, McPherron will be the head team physician for orthopedics, serving as the University’s NCAA Athletics Health Care Administrator, while Lawrence will serve as head team physician for primary care. McPherron is the chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and the director of Sports Medicine for SoutheastHEALTH. Lawrence is director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at SoutheastHEALTH Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

The agreement, Barke said, calls for SoutheastHEALTH to provide same day services for University students whenever possible, with providers available around the clock to communicate with Southeast’s athletic training staff and develop a plan to help track care and students’ return to sports or their performing roles. Under the agreement, SoutheastHEALTH will also provide:

  • Game day coverage for Southeast’s NCAA Division I athletic programs, including an emergency department physician to manage cardiac emergencies;
  • Six full-time certified athletic trainers on staff with one assigned to each athletic program;
  • One full-time certified athletic trainer assigned to work with the University’s performing arts and intramural and club sport participants;
  • Two physical therapists assigned to the Athletics Department, one physical therapist dedicated to the performing arts, and a concussion therapist to treat students with concussions;
  • Weekly on-campus clinic availability by both primary care and orthopedic physicians for student-athletes and performing arts students in the University’s athletic training facility;
  • Equipment, including portable x-ray and ultrasound machines to be placed in the athletic training facility.
  • Pre-participation student physicals, including EKG screenings; and
  • Monthly on-campus drug testing for student-athletes.

Division I college athletes are susceptible to injury across all sports, Barke said. Like Southeast athletes, the University’s performing arts students are not immune to injury either. These students train year-round and the physical demands placed on their bodies are significant.  Proper injury prevention and rehabilitation is necessary to ensure the students are able to continue to perform at their best.

Rhonda Weller-Stilson, dean of the Holland College of Arts and Media, said making comprehensive health services available to Southeast’s performing arts students is critical and will help solidify the expectations of the University’s accrediting bodies for its performing arts programs, including the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

“Having a dedicated group of medical professionals provide treatment to our Conservatory students is extremely exciting and beneficial to their training and education.  This will help with the recruitment and retention of quality dancers who are increasingly aware of the physical requirements of their field and want access to healthcare professionals who can help track their physical fitness as well as treat any injuries they may encounter,” said Hilary Peterson, coordinator of dance and associate professor in The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast. “These professionals will help dancers get back to their training and performance schedules safely and quickly.

“Our accrediting organizations (NASD and NAST) require that students have regular access to professionals who can assist them with maintaining the health and injury prevention/treatment that is required for technique training and performance,” Peterson said. “This collaboration with Southeast Health will fulfill that requirement and be extremely beneficial as the program grows.”

In addition, the University’s club sport and intramural participants will be well served by the new health care services partnership. Last year, Recreation Services at the University recorded more than 4,600 participants in intramural sports and had athletes competing in 19 club sports on campus.

“We are seeing a different type of club sport athlete these days,” said Mike Buck, director of Recreation Services at the University. “Students come here having played travel sports their whole life” and have made enormous investments in these activities.

Ken Bateman, left, SoutheastHEALTH president and CEO, and Dr. Carlos Vargas, right, president of Southeast Missouri State University.

Buck said it’s imperative to diagnose their injuries and get them up to full speed with the same rigor as Southeast’s Division I athletes so they can return to the sport they love.

“The students on our club teams don’t want to be out,” he said. “What this provides our students is the ability to diagnose and treat their injuries and get them back out on the field as quickly as possible.”

Barke said SoutheastHEALTH also has agreed to make its DartFish video analysis program available for both lower extremity injury prevention and rehabilitation for athletes as well as the University’s athletic training academic program for research purposes.

In addition, SoutheastHEALTH has committed to providing three $1,000 SoutheastHEALTH Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Scholarships annually for Southeast students, Barke said. The scholarships will be awarded to one student-athlete, one student from the Holland College of Arts and Media, and one student in Southeast’s athletic training program.

“While we look forward to the contributions SoutheastHEALTH will make toward the medical well-being of our students, we especially appreciate their commitment to our students’ academic success,” Barke said.

The contract announced today for comprehensive management of student participant healthcare services is for five years with the option to renew for two additional years, he said.

About Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University is a comprehensive university with numerous national and international academic accreditations and certifications. In addition to offering more than 145 undergraduate majors, 100 minors and more than 75 graduate programs, Southeast continues to focus on staying ahead of changing market demands. Southeast offers academic programs through five colleges on four campuses – the main campus and the River Campus, both in Cape Girardeau; and its Kennett and Sikeston, Missouri, campuses. The University also has a regional campus site in Malden, Missouri that serves as a destination for agriculture research and workforce development initiatives.  Off-campus delivery sites are the Cape College Center at the Cape Career and Technology Center, the Poplar Bluff Delivery Site and Southeast Online. Southeast has approximately 11,000 students and competes in NCAA Division I, Ohio Valley Conference athletics. Learn more at

About SoutheastHEALTH

SoutheastHEALTH is the region’s premier healthcare system in southeast Missouri, providing patients excellent care of the highest clinical quality, close to home. Within their network are more than 50 care locations in 13 communities, including hospitals, primary and specialty care clinics representing more than 30 clinical specialties and extending care for patients in a four-state area. Learn more at