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Freeman named official sports medicine partner of PSU Athletics

Pittsburg State University officials joined Freeman Health System President/CEO Paula Baker and Dr. Michael Zafuta, orthopedic physician at Pittsburg Ambulatory Surgery Center, for a special announcement Wednesday (April 22) morning, revealing that Freeman has become the Official Sports Medicine Partner of PSU Athletics.

As the Official Sports Medicine Partner, Freeman receives branding rights to the nutrition station in the ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center in the new Robert W. Plaster Center. Freeman will provide funding for supplies for this newly created area.

“We’re very proud of our Freeman sports medicine program’s unparalleled level of comprehensive care to area athletes,” said Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula F. Baker. “I’m thrilled that we’re deepening our relationship with the people of Southeast Kansas through our partnership with PSU athletics and the addition of Dr. Zafuta to our excellent team of Freeman physicians.”

Prior to joining Freeman’s team of physicians, Zafuta was an orthopedic physician at New Century Orthopedic & Sports Medicine. His hometown roots and 14-year connection with PSU’s athletic teams as team physician led the locally owned hospital to contact the university about forming a more defined partnership.

“They reached out to us because they saw an opportunity and knew how much we respected Dr. Zafuta,” said PSU President Steve Scott. “Much like your personal physician, you want to be able to keep a doctor you know and trust. This allows us to do so and ensures that our student-athletes will continue to receive the very best care.”

According to Freeman, Zafuta will continue to treat student-athletes at Via Christi and the ambulatory surgery center as he has done in the past.

“I’m honored to be involved in this partnership between Freeman and PSU,” said Zafuta. “As a proud alumnus of Pitt State, and having enjoyed a wonderful medical practice here in Southeast Kansas, I look forward to helping keep PSU athletes strong, healthy and competitive.”

The partnership will also provide Freeman with branding rights to a planned expansion of the university’s athletic training facility in the Weede Physical Education Building. Renovations for the area, which will be called the Gorilla Sports Medicine Center fueled by Freeman Health System, will be completed in the fall of 2015.

Freeman’s assistance in this facility will help upgrade and/or purchase new equipment in the new sports medicine center as well as allow PSU Athletics to fund new graduate assistant positions in sports medicine.

“Freeman has been part of the Pittsburg community for many years,” said Jim Johnson, director of intercollegiate athletics. “Their proactive partnership helps us maintain our team physician and provides much needed funding to move our programs forward.”

Expansion work is set to begin on Monday, April 27.


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