- The Washington Times
Friday, April 2, 2021

Inova Health System announced Friday it will discontinue its role as the team physicians for the Washington Football Team — parting ways with the team after five years. The decision means that Dr. Robin West and her staff will no longer work with the franchise.

In a statement, Inova said the healthcare company “revisited its strategic priorities and has become even more focused on advancing patient-centered care in the DC region.” The company added it will remain a sponsor for the franchise through the 2021 seasons as “the Official Health System of the Washington Football Team.” 

The move comes as owner Dan Snyder’s buyout of his three minority partners became official. For $875 million, Snyder purchased the 40.5% stake that FedEx CEO Fred Smith, investor Robert Rothman and developer Dwight Schar owned. 

In 2015, Schar donated $50 million to Inova to help build a cancer research center that is named after him (the Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Fairfax, Virginia).

“For the past five years, Dr. West and her team have provided world-class healthcare to the Washington Football Team’s players and are grateful for the opportunity to have supported the team, the fans and the community,” Inova said in a statement. “The transition away from serving as the team’s lead medical provider will allow Inova’s orthopedic leadership team to focus on business and growth opportunities related to the health system’s Musculoskeletal Service line and the opening of Inova’s planned new hospital in Springfield, VA, which will serve as the hub for these services.”

West, who is also the lead team physician for the Washington Nationals, played an instrumental role in quarterback Alex Smith’s return from a life-threatening leg injury. She oversaw Smith’s 17 surgeries and recommended he visit the Center of Intrepid, a military rehab facility that helped Smith play football again after a two-year absence. 

The quarterback specifically thanked West in his acceptance speech when he won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award.

Before Smith’s return, Washington’s medical staff faced scrutiny in 2019 when Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams held out from the team over the handling of a cancer diagnosis. Williams told reporters the team did not properly take a growth on his scalp seriously enough before discovering it was cancer. 

Williams, who was traded last year to the San Francisco 49ers, said the incident caused him to lose faith in the franchise.

“I went to their doctors at Inova that’s where I got their diagnosis and then shortly after I think the diagnosis they gave me at the beginning, they kind of underestimated it and it was far more advanced than they realized,” Williams said in Oct. 2019. 

Williams’ accusations caused Washington to seek an independent investigation into the claims — though the investigation was never launched as Williams refused to cooperate. 

Washington made a series of changes to its training staff last year, cutting ties with trainer Larry Hess and hiring Ryan Vermillion. 

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