Newsletter Articles

Minimizing MRSA: A Three-Pronged Approach

July 13, 2011

Sarah E. Hardin, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Facilities
Campus Recreation
DePaul University

Methicillen-resistant staphylococcus aureus or the MRSA Virus, as it is more commonly known, was first addressed by John Lentz in the April 2007 issue of this publication. At that time, there were many recreational sports professionals who were unaware of the viciousness of this disease. Now, two years later, the term ‘MRSA’ strikes fear into the hearts of recreation facility managers across the country. Although we may not have had first-hand experience in dealing with the infection, we have heard enough stories to make us want to avoid it at all costs. We all wonder if we are doing enough to minimize the risks of an outbreak in our facilities.

While many institutions have already adopted a number of practices to prevent an outbreak, others may still be at the planning stages. This article is intended to assist those at both ends of this spectrum. The first section of the article provides basic information about the virus itself, as well as explaining why those in the recreational sports field should be concerned about its prevention. The second section addresses the actual practices used by recreational sport administrators to avoid or prevent the spread of the MRSA infection.

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One Strike and You’re Out: Lightning on the Playing Field

July 13, 2011

Katharine M. Nohr, Esq.
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC

On September 1, 2009, the Associated Press headline, “Lightning Strike Causes Amputation”, referred to Danish soccer player Jonathan Richter’s unfortunate injury arising out of a brief thunder storm on July 20th while he was playing a reserve game. The 24 year old athlete had to undergo an induced coma for 10 days and then suffered the amputation of his lower left leg. This recent incident dramatically illustrates the danger that lightning strikes pose to athletes during practices and competitions held outdoors. The National Weather Service estimates that in the United States, the earth is struck by lightning approximately 25 million times per year. Considering this frequency, it is no wonder that in 2008, there were 28 deaths that resulted from lightning strikes.

The most recent reported appellate court decision regarding a lightning strike was probably that of Sall v. T’s, Inc., 136 P.3d 471 (Kan. 2006), which involved a golfer, through his parents, filing a lawsuit against a golf course for injuries sustained as a result of being struck by lightning on a golf course. The Kansas Supreme Court held that a golf course owed a duty of care to protect golfers from harm caused by lightning strikes on a golf course. The Court determined that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the golf course negligently performed the duty that it assumed to monitor the weather conditions and warn the golfers to come in off the golf course and so summary judgment was not appropriate. The Court noted that the golf course’s procedure was to do the following: 1) monitor weather through broadcasts on television, radio and Internet reports; 2) personnel went outside to visually inspect the weather; 3) golfers were warned by use of an air horn to come off the golf course during poor weather conditions; and 4) golfers were informed through signage what they should do in case of inclement weather.

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The Journey in Creating Participant Expectations

July 04, 2011

Judith Sperling
Assistant Director – Risk Management, Training & Development
UCLA Recreation

The ‘Participant Expectations’ was a project of UCLA Recreation’s Risk Management Team. Team members were often confronted by participants who could not be reasonably coached in complying with facility use and safety policies. Some participants did not have a relationship with the campus where they knew about or shared our community values and commitment to safety. We realized that we had not been successful in conveying what being a part of UCLA Recreation meant. Use of facilities and participating in programs was a privilege worth having and we needed to communicate our campus’ vision of a cooperative and tolerant community.
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Over Exercise: How Should the Recreation Facility Respond?

July 04, 2011

Karen S. Miller
Registered Dietitian/Nutrition Educator
Edited by Christopher Dulak, Dr. Janet Crawford, Katie James
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Imagine you are walking by a sauna and you see a woman doing steps on the benches; or you see a male participant who has moved an exercise bike into a sauna to exercise. Imagine you are seeing a middle aged women exercising on a treadmill, her body emaciated to the point of having no muscle tone. Or you see a “normal” weight participant who has been working out in the building for three hours. What is your response, what action is appropriate?

You may ask: “So what?” What “should” we do? What is appropriate? We know it’s an issue, but what action do we take?”

Occasionally there will be a story of over-exercise to bring the subject to the headlines. People Magazine reported on Peach Friedman in “Exercise Almost Killed Her” (Souter, et al, 2006). In a side bar segment they also mentioned actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler and her bout with “exercise bulimia.” Today’s Dietitian reported: “Exercise Abuse: Too Much of A Good Thing” (Jackson, 2005). And Fitness Magazine carried: “I Am an Exercise Addict” (Schein & Copeland, 1994).

In a society that idealizes and promotes the perfect body; with role models like The Biggest Loser (at least 4-5 hours of exercise daily) and with the pursuit of rock hard abs and tight butts, how much exercise is too much? When is it time for the fitness profession to step in and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!?
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Pandemic Planning — An H1N1 Update

July 04, 2011

Joe Ozorio, CBCP
Assistant Vice-President
Marsh Risk Consulting

Just 6 short months ago there was discussion about the possibility of an influenza pandemic occurring and that it was a matter of when, not if. As we all know, we are now steeped in the midst of global pandemic, and the only thing that’s different from what was last written, is the type of influenza — not avian as originally feared, but swine flu, or as it’s now properly known: Influenza Type A H1N1.

On June 11, 2009 the World Health Organization’s Dr. Margaret Chan, stating that “…the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met.”, officially raised the pandemic alert level from Phase 5 to Phase 6 (see previous article for the WHO phases and their descriptions). The world was at the start of a full influenza pandemic. Since then we’ve seen the number of cases rise dramatically all over the globe. As of the last available official update — July 6, 2009 — WHO reported over 94,000 confirmed cumulative cases of H1N1 and 429 deaths worldwide. However since then, they’ve stopped reporting the cumulative numbers. Public Health Agency of Canada has also stopped reporting cumulative cases and now reports only deaths.

Why? It was pointless for several reasons:
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H1N1 (Swine) Flu

July 04, 2011

Are you Ready?

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
President, Ian McGregor & Associates Inc.

When the threat of an H5N1 (Avian Flu) pandemic looked imminent in the last few years, many universities scrambled to put a plan in place. While that threat did not materialise (for now), universities are now faced with a world-wide outbreak of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus — a different disease requiring a different planning model. A key change for campus emergency planners this time around is a recognized need for a more flexible model (versus the more rigid plans originally developed for the Avian Flu strain).

According to Chris Tapfer, Emergency Management Coordinator for Washington State University, the big issues for Campus Recreation programs will be flexibility and hygiene. According to Tapfer, campus closures will be very unlikely and although there will potentially be a lot of sick students, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to have individuals stay home and out of circulation for 3-5 days, and until at least 24 hours after their fever has subsided. This means Campus Recreation programs may still be able to function but will need to ramp up sanitization programs and protective measures.

Since increased diligence in hygiene and sanitization is also the key to preventing the spread of other contagious diseases such as MRSA (see article in this Newsletter), it is therefore recommended that Campus Recreation Directors review their cleaning and sanitization protocols to ensure that spread of highly contagious diseases like Swine Flu and MRSA is minimized.

For more information on these threats, and advice on how to deal with them:

  1. Consult with your campus Risk Management Department and/or Emergency Response Coordinator.
  2. Review the H1N1 Update in this Newseletter
  3. Access information on H1N1 provided by the CDC at
  4. Review the MRSA article in this Newsletter.
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