They Played Sports at the Highest Level. Now Their Job Is to Save Lives.

Written by on April 8, 2020

The four-time Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser of Canada was round 10 years previous when she first had the thought of being each knowledgeable hockey participant and a health care provider. Wickenheiser, now 41, grew up in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, a city of fewer than 2,000 folks and fewer than two sq. miles in dimension. A younger lady within the space had been severely injured after getting hit by a grocery supply van.

“I keep in mind going to the hospital with all the youngsters within the neighborhood and simply being actually impressed and intrigued by the docs and nurses that had been caring for her,” Wickenheiser mentioned in a phone interview.

“That’s how it began. At that age, I had two objectives: to play for the Edmonton Oilers and to go to Harvard Medical Faculty.”

After retiring in 2017 as Staff Canada’s profession scoring chief, Wickenheiser enrolled in medical college on the College of Calgary, then took on the function as an assistant director of participant improvement for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018. She was within the midst of her medical rotation in emergency rooms round Toronto two weeks in the past, when medical college students and trainees had been pulled from their assignments because the variety of coronavirus circumstances within the nation reached a important level.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been greater than 1.three million coronavirus circumstances and 81,106 virus-related deaths recorded worldwide. Greater than 30 p.c of these recognized circumstances are in the USA. Canada is residence to greater than 17,000 circumstances, or simply over 1 p.c.

PictureHayley Wickenheiser has been helping gather personal protective equipment for front line workers.

Medical college students aren’t allowed to instantly deal with sufferers who’ve contracted Covid-19, so Wickenheiser has been gathering private protecting tools, or P.P.E., for entrance line employees and serving to with contact tracing of recognized sufferers to trace the unfold of the virus.



“I keep in mind when the primary Covid affected person got here by the emergency room doorways within the hospital I used to be at, one of many docs I used to be with didn’t bodily need to go into the room,” she mentioned. “They didn’t really feel protected or that that they had sufficient P.P.E. they usually didn’t actually know what they had been coping with.”

One morning in early March, after a very unsettling shift, Wickenheiser, a member of the Worldwide Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Fee, was surprised to learn that the I.O.C. still was planning for the Summer Olympics to continue as scheduled in Tokyo beginning in July.

“I saved on seeing this blatant, ‘We’re going forward it doesn’t matter what,’ type of perspective and I simply thought, ‘How are you going to be talking?’” she mentioned. “It was making me loopy. Every single day I used to be dropping sleep listening to this dialogue.”

Wickenheiser voiced her concerns to Canadian and worldwide Olympic leaders earlier than publishing a statement to her social media accounts on March 17 imploring the I.O.C. to decide about suspending or canceling the Video games.

“I believe the I.O.C. insisting this may transfer forward, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity,” she wrote. “We don’t know what’s taking place within the subsequent 24 hours, not to mention within the subsequent three months.”

5 days later, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it will not ship the nation’s athletes to Tokyo in 2020 and referred to as on the I.O.C. to postpone the video games, a choice the I.O.C. made with the Japanese government on March 24.

Wickenheiser has since been in touch with the workplace of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to assist promote social distancing advisories to the general public and has contributed to his #plankthecurve social media marketing campaign.

She isn’t the one elite athlete now on the entrance strains within the struggle towards the unfold of the coronavirus.

Duvernay-Tardif, who received his medical diploma from McGill College in Montreal, hopes to concentrate on emergency medication however isn’t presently a part of a medical residency program and can’t help docs and different medical employees in treating sufferers. After he returned from his post-Tremendous Bowl crusing trip, he reached out to Quebec authorities officers asking how he might assist. Like Wickenheiser, Duvernay-Tardif has been utilizing his social media platforms to communicate vetted well being care steerage to his followers, totaling almost 200,000 between Instagram and Twitter.

“Thus far I’ve achieved a bunch of interviews and gone reside on completely different platforms, reinforcing how vital it’s to do social distancing, primary hygiene like hand-washing, and the way we’re going to handle this factor,” Duvernay-Tardif mentioned in a phone interview.

Myron Rolle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2010 and spent three seasons taking part in skilled soccer earlier than retiring to pursue a profession in medication. Rolle, a Rhodes Scholar, is presently a neurosurgery resident on the Harvard Medical Faculty and at Massachusetts Basic Hospital, the place he treats sufferers with numerous illnesses, together with ones that present indicators of the Covid-19. Massachusetts has the USA’ fourth highest charge of an infection per capita, with 15,202 reported cases.

“I believe the largest shock for me is how infectious it’s,” he mentioned. “Folks had talked about that it’s just like the flu or frequent chilly, however this virus goes from individual to individual with out discrimination.”

No matter their specialties, all three athletes drew parallels between competing in skilled sports activities and dealing within the well being care area. They mentioned abilities like time administration, managing intense stress and perseverance had been simply transferable between vocations.

“Soccer’s taught me self-discipline, focus, onerous work, dedication, teamwork, preparation, and overcoming adversity,” Rolle mentioned.

Wickenheiser has associated her medical colleagues’ traits to her athletic friends as a means of supporting their efforts through the present disaster.

“I used to be speaking to a buddy who has been an emergency doctor for 20 years and he or she was describing how she needed to shut down communications with mates as a result of she was getting textual content messages from folks saying how they had been so sorry for her and grieving that she needed to do her job and he or she didn’t really feel that means in any respect,” Wickenheiser mentioned.

“I mentioned, ‘That is your med Olympics. That is just like the Olympics for you. Sure, you’re in danger, however you’re additionally actually rattling good at your job and sensible, and also you’re going to do all the pieces you’ll be able to to guard your self and your employees.”

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