Athletic Trainer Contract: Relationships vs. Money?

Timberlane’s athletic trainer services were put out to bid this year.  Just two companies bid on the contract for TRHS and TRMS: Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network (NRH), and Access Sports Medicine and Orthopedics (ACCESS).  At the Timberlane School Board meeting on April 4th, , Dr. Metzler said this:

“…[B]oth of these companies meet all their obligations in that bid…  …[T]he decision, in my opinion, is really now: one bid is lower than the other bid, and one company we’ve had a longstanding relationship with.  That’s really what it comes down to.”   (2hrs., 11 minutes on VIMEO)

I’m not an expert on contracts nor do I know anything about sports medicine and athletic trainers, but to my eyes, there is a lot to distinguish these two bids apart from money and relationships. You’ll find both the bidding contracts below so you can see for yourself.  In the meantime, here’s my take.

MONEY:  NRH :  $35,750         ACCESS:  $29,320

ACCESS is more than $6,000 less and I do not see in their contract where any ancillary charges would be incurred above those that NRH would also additionally charge.  (In the video you’ll see that ACCESS says their quote was consistent with what they charge many other schools in NH and was not a low introductory offer, so to speak.)

RELATIONSHIP:  NRH has been serving Timberlane for 28 years.  There is no record of when the contract was last put out to bid, according to School Board Chairman, Rob Collins.  ACCESS provides services for many high schools in New Hampshire, including Phillips Exeter Academy. Presumably they’ve been actively bidding their services to gain these contracts.

PROVIDERS:   Both companies provide nationally certified athletic trainers.  Only ACCESS:  ” Included in this proposal, Access Will provide Physician coverage (when available) for all home football games.”

SERVICES:   ACCESS’ concussion service is broader than that offered by NRH. ACCESS will do a free baseline ImPact concussion test every two years on all participant athletes ages 11 and older. NRH will do this baseline only on athletes in contact sports but it seems that they will do it annually. ACCESS says explicitly that they will “provide verification of ImPACT Baseline Testing by a Credentialed ImPACT Consultant (CIC) Physician and identification of any flagged or abnormal tests. Tests may be sent for review by a neuropsychologist if deemed necessary by CIC Physician.” NRH’s contract is silent on this. ACCESS also offers free physician injury clinics at the schools as well as free pre-participation physicals at their offices for athletes.

OFFICES:  NRH has a hospital in Salem [Correction: and hospitals in Nashua and Portsmouth, as well as multiple locations elsewhere including Plaistow.]  ACCESS has offices [correction: clinics] in Plaistow, Raymond, Exeter and Portsmouth with [a walk-in] clinic in Exeter. [corrections 4/10.  See follow up blog posting of April 10.]

Even if you don’t agree with me that the differences are compelling in these bids,  surely respecting the competitive bidding process and awarding to a competent lower bidder is what is expected.

I hope this is the beginning of putting all Timberlane’s personal services contracts out to bid because the process has been most enlightening.  If the right decision is made, it should also be financially beneficial.

NRH High School

NRH Middle School


P.S.  Decision #2 your  school board has differed to Dr. Metzler (since the count started in 3/13).


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