It’s been a strange offseason introduction for Eagles new Director of Sports Medicine, Tom Hunkele, who spoke with Dave Spadaro on the Eagles Insider Podcast about all the changes made to the NovaCare Complex amid the COVID pandemic.
Hunkele emphasized that it took incredible collaboration throughout the organization to pull everything together and implement changes around the facility — he also noted that they were coming up with new procedures even before hearing from the NFL.
“The overarching theme,” Hunkele answered of their efforts, “is safety.”
He went on to explain that everything they’ve done up to this point is to make the facility as safe as possible for the players, coaches, and staff.
- There is a lot of signage, as far as physical distancing measures and directions, as well as hand wash reminders and CDC guidelines.
- Meeting rooms have been knocked down and made larger. Physician meetings with players will be held once the full roster is on site and they can use The Linc for adequate social distancing.
- Parts of the Eagles operation is still working remotely so they’ve been able to expand availability in other areas.
- There is no seating in the cafeteria, they put up tents outside just for the players to be able to maintain distance and eat.
- In the locker room, they are using every other locker to space it out — every locker is at least 7 feet apart. They took out all the items from the players lounge area to be able to utilize that space, as well, and bring in extra lockers, rather than split the team.
- There are no longer shared water sources, they each have their own water bottles and single use towels.
Rules in the weight room
Hunkele said that there has been some direction from the league with protocols for strength and conditioning, like how many people can be within a square footage and working out at one time.
The team removed two windows and made them doors for better airflow, and added a weight room tent, so it’s like they have two separate weight rooms. He talked about how they’ll be separating into smaller groups and adhering to strict cleaning procedures after each set.
Masks are mandatory
Another point Hunkele stressed was that masks were mandatory, “no excuses, no exceptions”.
To get things started, every player (and coach and staff member) must have two negative tests before getting into the facility and, as of now, testing will continue every day.
A day in the life
The Eagles have an app that will notify the team member to answer a screening questionnaire before heading to the facility. If they pass, they get a QR code to get into the building. If they don’t pass, someone from Hunkele’s team will reach out to check on them medically.
Each person will then pull into the parking lot and into a tent for a daily test. They go through the nasal swab — it takes 2 minutes — then they can park their car. They have different entrances into the building for different groups, where the person scans their QR code and then gets scanned by the thermal camera for a fever. Everything is touchless and automated, and they get set up with a contact tracer that will alert them for “proximity events”.
After that, they can get to work.