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MRSA cases triggers closure of field house

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By Molly Haines

Owen County School District Superintendent David Raleigh said a new field house is a much-needed facility after some students in the district contracted MRSA while using the Cochran Building.
District sports teams have been utilizing the old Maurice Bowling Middle School cafeteria since the infections were brought to Raleigh’s attention.
“The old field house was just dirty and disease-infested,” Raleigh said. “We had problems with kids contracting MRSA, and it was a big health concern for us. But this is something that has been going on for years, and when it was brought to my attention I had to ask the coaches for other places that we could house these kids for this year until we could get the ball rolling on a new field house.”
MRSA, also known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of staff infection that has developed resistance to antibiotics.
According to the National Library of Medicine’s website, infections can often occur in athletes who share towels and equipment and can enter a person’s body by a cut or sore.
Symptoms include a red, swollen, painful area on the skin; chest pain, chills, cough, fatigue, fever, headache, muscle aches, rash and shortness of breath.
Draining the infected skin can sometimes be the only treatment required, but more serious cases can lead to hospitalization, where fluids and medications can be given through an IV.
Raleigh said he was aware of at least two MRSA infections that were contracted at the Cochran Building.
“It’s important to note that when we moved these kids over to the cafeteria at MBMS, we had training sessions for coaches and students on how to sanitize equipment and how to properly wash their hands and so on,” Raleigh said. “All of the equipment was properly sanitized before being moved to the old MBMS.”
The field house, also known as the Cochran Building, was built as an addition to the old Owen County High School in 1962. Raleigh said the building was used as the agricultural building or “farmhouse.”
In 2001, the football boosters decided to turn the Cochran Building into the field house.
The Owen County School  Board has earmarked $500,000 for the construction of a new field house.
“We don’t have a final cost yet,” Raleigh said. “The $500,000 is just an estimate, but we had to let the state department know something. It doesn’t mean we’re going to use that entire amount, it just means we know we’re going to use at least that much.”
The $500,000 comes from a building fund, which can only be used for facilities.
Ross-Tarrant, the architects for the new MBMS and the renovation of the old MBMS, were also chosen as architects of the new field house.
Raleigh said the construction of a new field house will be taken in phases, the first phase being the demolition of the Cochran Building; the second determining what finances will allow; the third determining what is needed for the facility.
“If you look at it right now, if it weren’t for the old middle school students wouldn’t have a field house,” Raleigh said. “Once the old middle school is renovated, we can’t use that facility in place of a field house, and we would have had to look at other facilities anyway. The new facility will be clean. There will be no risk for disease, and the fact that if you look at our campus right now, we have some really nice facilities and a new field house will complement those.”
Raleigh said he would like to see the new facility ready for use by the start of the 2012 fall sports season.