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Some question training contracts between high school, hospital

Some question training contracts between schools, hospital

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Local News 8 has learned at least four Upper Valley high schools have signed agreements with Bingham Memorial Hospital's Orthopedic Institute in Blackfoot for athletic training services.

District 91 recently signed the agreement for both of its high schools -- Idaho Falls and Skyline.

"They'll have the ability to assess any injuries on the field. They do pre-season screenings," said Dr. Nathan Richardson with the Orthopedic Institute.

Idaho Falls orthopedic surgeon Dr. Casey Huntsman who has been providing his services free to District 91 for the past 12 years said he was caught off guard by the decision to partner with Bingham Memorial.

"I was disappointed," said Huntsman.

Under the agreement, District 91 said it will get 20 hours of free athletic training per week for each of its two high schools.

"The key piece is getting continuity of athletic training services, having certified licensed athletic trainers," said superintendent George Boland.

But Huntsman insists this is ultimately about netting Bingham Memorial new patients.

"The question is, as a community, do we want business -- medical business -- to be driven down to Blackfoot?" said Huntsman.

But both Bingham Memorial and District 91 say the district is under no obligation to refer athletes to Bingham Memorial.

"Every student athlete has the ability to choose whichever doctor they want to go to," said Richardson.

Huntsman said he isn't convinced.

"Why else would they have athletic trainers in the schools other than to push business to Blackfoot?" Huntsman said.

The agreement took effect Aug. 1 and will last for three years.

Local News 8 has also learned that both Rigby and Ririe High Schools have also signed with Bingham Memorial.

In exchange for the training services, all schools said they'll be providing some sort of advertising for Bingham Memorial at games.

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