Asante layoff affecting student athletes in Ashland

MEDFORD, Ore. – NBC5 News heard from a student athletic trainer in Ashland who used to work under Asante.

But the health system has laid off about 3% of its workforce. With a payroll around 6,000, that’s around 200 people.

Eric Lang was the only athletic trainer position that was supported by Asante but said Wednesday (2/07/2024) he was eliminated immediately. At this time, it comes in the middle of the school year at Ashland High School and two weeks left in the winter sports season.

Asante revealed in an email to its employees that efforts to reduce costs coming out of the pandemic have not kept up with underperforming revenue. And the cuts focused primarily on administrative and support costs. Without Lang, this leaves over 300 student athletes without a licensed athletic trainer’s sports medical oversight.

The Ashland High School Football Club and Grizzlies Basketball Team Board Member, Holly Linerud worked alongside Lang. She said that his absence is strongly felt by other staff members in student athletics and the students themselves,

“We’re very concerned for the safety of the students. To run an athletic program at the high school level without a trainer is dangerous, unsafe, and irresponsible. [Lang] has made such nice connections with all the kids… and the kids will feel his absence big time.”

Lang would help students with acute injuries, concussion baseline assessments, injury rehabilitation and more.

“My primary concern is that these young vulnerable athletes have the resources they need to ensure their health and safety. My wish is to find my way back to Ashland High School or find another capacity in which I’m able to use my skill set to serve our local athletes and the community.”

Before he was let go, Lang was working with Southern Oregon University to give students exposure to the field of sports medicine. Lang says that even though he’s only worked that position for almost two years, he enjoys with making sure local student athletes are safe and looked after. We reached out to Asante previously about their layoffs, we haven’t heard back.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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