FORT CAVAZOS, Texas – The family medicine residency program director and family and sports medicine physician at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, here helped TEAM USA stay healthy during the during the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile Oct. 20 – Nov. 5.
The director, Col. Meghan Raleigh, was one of two physicians at the athlete village clinic that was open from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily and part of a team with an orthopedic surgeon, two chiropractors, two athletic trainers, three massage therapists and psychological services support who also went out with the athletes to different events.
Team USA had a total of 628 athletes and the total medal count was 286 medals: 124 gold, 75 silver and 87 bronze.
Raleigh arrived in Chile the morning of the opening ceremony and adrenaline would not let her take the team encouraged nap after arrival.
“It was an amazing experience to go with Team USA and be a part of opening ceremonies,” Raleigh said. “Marching onto the field with everyone chanting, “U-S-A, U-S-A”, being with the staff and the athletes was a little surreal. The ceremony included cultural performances, and it was exciting to see the Chilean crowd, and really special to be a part of that from day one.”
Raleigh credits her military family medicine experience, a military sports medicine fellowship and a two-week Olympic training center rotation in 2018 for preparing her to support the high-level athletes.
“I think military family medicine prepares one very well for this sort of event. It requires a lot of flexibility, thinking outside of the box, and individualizing care for each athlete,” Raleigh said. “Taking care of Soldiers is similar, because every Solider is an athlete, and you want them to perform at the best level that they possible can and ensure their readiness.”
Besides seeing active-duty Soldiers, Raleigh treats retirees and family members in the sports and family medicine clinics at the hospital here.
Raleigh commended her leadership and teammates for allowing her the opportunity to participate in the games by taking the lead for the program while she was away and taking care of her patients in her absence.
“I was really grateful for the support to be able to have this opportunity to take care of Team USA and had a good feeling knowing that everyone back here was also taken care of in my absence,” she said.
Team USA’s leadership appreciated her being there.
“Doctor Raleigh was an excellent member of our medical team and critical to the support of Team USA during the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile,“ said Amber Donaldson, vice president of sports medicine, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. “She was truly a team player stepping in and helping in any way needed. From assisting with Polyclinic visits to going on local pharmacy runs, she brought sincere, bright energy into the clinic every day. In addition to all of her excellent patient care in the village clinic, she assisted with sport coverage and assisted with medical coverage at Opening Ceremony.”
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