“Will sports resume this fall?” It’s a question many are asking, especially Dr. Austin Barrett of Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Jackson, MS. No sports? No inquiries to treat! Dr. Barrett speaks with us about the future of sports medicine and how his office is preparing to treat young athletes all over the mid-south if and when sports resume this fall.
AB: Hello everyone. I’m Anna Bell and welcome to another episode of Main and Mulberry! Today I’m so excited to have with us Dr. Austin Barrett with Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Barrett, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.
DB: Yeah Anna, thanks for having me. Appreciate it!
AB: We’re you excited to have you on! Just to kind of get started..Let’s talk a little bit about yourself. Are you from the Jackson, Mississippi area and maybe you can give us a brief profile on what landed you in the orthopedic sports medicine world?
DB: Yes, I grew up here in Jackson. My family, both my parents were from cities around Mississippi and they wound up here. So I grew up here, went to school, high school at Jackson Academy here. My father was a, I grew up in a physician household …my father was an orthopedic surgeon, actually one of the founders of our group that I work in now, here in Jackson.
AB: Wow! Oh, that’s great!
DB: That was interesting growing up in, and certainly got to see that, that side of things and.. Yeah, actually we helped cover, he was the team physician for the school I grew up in, Jackson Academy. So that was, that was kinda neat.
AB: What was that like? Was your dad the physician there for you guys at that time?
DB:He was. He was there for gosh, a long time. And it was, it was neat being out there and you know, having him on the sidelines and… it was just getting to cover things with him, different sporting events and just seeing how he, how he functioned and how, you know, how he got to treat people and get them back out there play. And it was, it was neat to be a part of. We saw people in our living room, they would just say “come on over” and we’ll set them on our couch or on our dining room table. So we saw a lot of people at our house!
AB: What a neat way to grow up! I don’t think everybody can say that, that happened in their childhood!
DB: Yeah, it was neat. And that was one of the, you know, the main things that kinda got me into a new medicine and orthopedic surgery in general, was just seeing that and being a part of that. And just, honestly just the satisfaction of you know, seeing somebody who got hurt.. being there when they got hurt, diagnosing it, treating them, and then have them go back out there and, you know, seeing your success as they get out there and play and do what they want to do.
AB: That’s so cool. Kind of bring us back full circle now.. tell us a little bit about the current practice and your specialty.
DB: So our practice, Mississippi Sports Medicine, we are a group, private practice. There are 16 or 17 partners, several associates. We cover many fields of orthopedic surgery and, my field is sports medicine and, specialty is injuries of the lower extremities. So usually there’s a lot of knee and hip injuries.With sports medicine we do a lot of surgery and treatment through the scope. So small incisions, we go in and fix things, you know, that way and get people back to doing what they want to do. I’m sorry, go ahead.
AB: No, yeah. My understanding is that you are a team physician for several Mississippi college and high school sports programs. Can you drill down on that for us a little bit? What schools and, and what does it mean to be a head team physician?
DB: Sure, no problem. So that is… a big part of being a sports medicine physician is being out there, being available and just being present, covering a lot of sporting events for different schools. So I cover three teams of three schools., I covered ironically Jackson Academy, which is where I went to school, which is..
AB: Your home school! Yeah.
DB: It’s just an absolute treat to get back there and to cover my Alma mater. It’s been great being there. And then I cover a junior college, Southwest community college, over in Summit, Mississippi and I cover Millsaps college, which is a local college here in Jackson. So it’s, you know, it gets, as my wife tells me every year, it gets busy during the seasons. And you have to cover a lot of games. So
AB: That’s a lot of games, you know, between those schools. That’s a lot of games! Do you have only one sports team like football, or do you cover multiple sports for those schools?
DB: We cover pretty much all sports. I mean, we’re, um, we
AB: No kidding… all those schedules! You’re bus!
DB: Well no.. we don’t go to every single thing that would be, I mean, that’s a lot! But we do, we cover all the football games.. we’re there. That seems to be where they need us the most during the season. So we’re there on the sidelines for all the games and then we cover different things throughout the year. Different, you know, go to different sporting events, soccer and basketball and baseball and lots of things throughout the year. But, you know.. I’m sorry, go ahead.
AB: No, yeah, no, I was going to say, I bet you do see a fair amount of hip and knee injuries when you’re covering that division of sports.
DB: Ah, that’s, that’s definitely a lot, there’s a lot of, especially knee injuries during the football season. A lot of hard hits and cuts get done.
AB: ah. Yeah. So, but you are with football though..
DB: We, he main thing we’re there covering every game, and our busiest season for sure, in our clinic is football… that seems to be where a lot of injuries happen, but again, we cover, lots of different sports and you know, some of the schools during the football season, we’ll all run a sort of a free training room clinic. So just whoever’s at the school and wants to come in and we’ll just see them and kind of do a general evaluation there. So, Mmm. Yeah. That’s different things like that throughout the year.
AB: : Sure. No. Yeah. What is that like..having a kid come running, I guess maybe not even running off the field, may be carried off the field with an injury like that. Do you, does your adrenaline start going? Do you get into a fight or flight mode? What is that like?
DB: Definitely gets your blood pumping for sure. I mean
AB: See kids in a lot of pain..
DB: Oh yeah, for sure. And you know, you always kind of hope for a boring game from your standpoint, so you can just watch the game and enjoy it. But when you, certainly you don’t want to see kids hurt, but you know, we’ll go out there and our role generally is do an initial evaluation either on the field or if they are able to come off on the sidelines, we’ll evaluate them. And just to initially see if it’s a severe injury and they need something more or if they just need a minute to stretch and they’re able to get back out there that game. So that’s kind of our initial thing. And you know, when we’re out there, when I’m out there, the first thing I do is find the ambulance wherever they are on the field, just in case. You know, we rarely need them, but just in case..
AB: Right.. Yeah. Well, I really appreciate this. This definitely helps us better understand your role in sports medicine. So I appreciate you kind of painting that picture for us, but I would like to switch gears a little bit and kind of talk about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. What have the last few months looked like for you guys at MSMOC?
DB: Uh, well, it’s like for everybody, it’s definitely changed how we’ve done business in the last few months. Yeah, during the peak of the season, the things that changed for us as we were still doing clinic and surgery though, are we were screening everybody that came through the door. We basically minimized how many people are going through the clinic. And again, during the peak of the pandemic, we were only seeing and operating on patients that, with urgent problems that had to be done. A lot of the other chronic stuff, unfortunately just had to wait. And that has certainly changed, that’s a that’s picked back up. But you know, the other things we were doing besides screening and everybody wearing masks, you know, the whole clinic…. and which we still do. We’re still doing the screening and the masks. But telehealth and doing a phone call and video calls with people just to things that were less acute we could just do that through telemedicine.
AB: I was curious about that – if you guys had picked up telehealth appointments. How has that been going? Have you done that before pre COVID-19?
DB: We have the capacity to, but didn’t use it nearly as much as, as we did certainly with, with orthopedics and when you’re dealing with extremities, you, you know…
AB: You want to hands on, right?
DB: It’s hard to diagnose something over the phone, over video. But, we did it when we have to, but, basically we’re back up and running with the precautions we’re taking.
AB: Gotcha. From a healthcare standpoint, what do you anticipate the foreseeable future to look like in the world of sports medicine? And the question on all of our minds, do you think that baseball and football programs will get started up again here soon?
DB: Well, that’s a great question. We get asked that a lot. So for the future, it’s hard to say. We keep up with the news and Iserve on a high school, Mississippi High School Association advisory board, and we actually meet every week to discuss this exact thing and what the future is looking like. What we have to do to get specifically high school people, the athletes back into shape, cause they’ve been off for basically months besides doing stuff on their own, as far as we can see for now, unless things significantly change, football, baseball, as far as we know, everything’s going to be back on track, for the next, for the next school year. Now obviously if cases go back up or anything changes then that, that may have to change. And I think for this season, the things that are going to be questionable are potentially a number of people in the stands, you know, certainly precautions about how close people are, wearing masks, that sort of thing, because you know, the pandemic thankfully is settling down some, but I think that the precautions that we’ve learned about are gonna still be in place for awhile.
AB: Right. I know. I sit here and think about a sports, sporting event where everybody is in masks. Can you imagine that!
DB: It’s a, it’s definitely gonna be a different year, but you know, fingers crossed. Hopefully if everything’s still looking good, we’ll still have the seasons.
AB: Well, I think you’ve made a lot of listeners happy by hearing that the future of sports programs might be coming back to us soon. And so I know I’m excited about it! I’m itching to, and my husband is too to see something on TV and actually attend an event. So you made a lot of people happy.
DB: I hope I’m right. I hope we have a good season.
AB: Dr. Barrett, thank you so much for your time and your insight today. We really do appreciate it.
DB: Thank you, Anna. I appreciate it.
AB: Until next time. I’m Anna Bell sending you all well wishes.