Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas doctor Charlene Adrian is honored to be in Tampa, Fla., today, one of four health care professionals hand-picked to represent the Raiders at Super Bowl 55.
It’s being billed as a celebration of the frontline medical professionals who for more than 10 months have put their own personal health at risk while caring for COVID-19 patients.
Some days have been worse than others. Some shifts have been longer than others. When many of us have mostly remained in the friendly confines of our home during the pandemic, these doctors, nurses, therapists, maintenance workers and others have showed up day in and day out, living with the fear of contracting the virus front and center. But that fear hasn’t kept them from their patient duties.
Make no doubt about it, they are the modern-day heroes and we can’t thank them enough.
But as Adrian stresses, it’s your turn to be a hero.
All of the 7,500 workers attending the game, most from central Florida and four selected by each of the league’s teams, have received both doses of the COVID vaccine. Many viewers will watch in envy at the partially-filled stadium, wondering when a return to normal life — attending games, concerts, church, movies and more — will occur.
Adrian has a simple answer: When all residents, in Southern Nevada and beyond, fully embrace getting vaccinated.
“I don’t want to speak for them, but I’m assuming the NFL is trying to promote the message of vaccination,” said Adrian, who works with Intermountain Healthcare and splits her time at many Las Vegas facilities, mainly MountainView Hospital. “That is the message we have to promote. To be safe, you can’t hesitate to get it.”
Getting the vaccine, if nothing else, will put your mind at ease. We’ve all had a moment or two since last spring when we questioned if we had gotten coronavirus. If Adrian had a runny nose or was tired after a long shift, she wondered like the rest of us, “On my God, is this COVID or am I just run down from the day?”
A hospitalist — that is, she works with patients who are too sick to go home from the hospital but not sick enough to be transferred to the intensive care unit or to be put on a breathing machine — Adrian comes from a family of health care workers. Dad was an emergency room doctor; mom a nurse. The family also had a physical therapist and pharmacist.
Bringing in front-line health professionals from all areas of medicine to the Super Bowl seems fitting for the NFL, as battling COVID takes a team effort. Without everyone pulling in the same direction, lives would not have been saved, and the virus could be much worse — so bad that no fans would be attending, or no game being played.
“We have a deep respect for each other’s job and role in health care,” Adrian said. “The big thing is we are going through this all together. We depend on each other.”
That message of unity is shared by the Raiders, who have been leaders in battling the pandemic locally. Owner Mark Davis donated $1 million in the spring to the state’s COVID-19 task force to help acquire personal protective equipment. Star defender Maxx Crosby provided meals to the night shift at Sunrise Children’s Hospital. And before a home game in October against the Bills, the franchise invited health care workers for the ceremonial lighting of the Al Davis torch. Since the lighting tradition began in 2011, it’s mostly been done by Raider alumni, celebrities and other notables.
“Athletes, we take our health for granted because we think we are big and strong and do things well, so we are invisible,” Raiders great Lincoln Kennedy said when speaking to the four doctors representing the team at the Super Bowl. “But we all know life is real, and you’ve done your best to take care and preserve life.”
Adrian is a lifelong Bengals fan after growing up near Cincinnati. But, like most of us, she’s also quickly become a fan of the silver and black. She’s also a fan of everything Las Vegas, making a home here about three years ago with her husband, an engineer who came to town to work the Project Neon freeway project.
They love to attend shows, concerts and events throughout town. Adrian hopes to eventually attend another Super Bowl — whenever Las Vegas is pegged to host the game. But, first, it’s finishing the COVID fight alongside her brothers and sisters in the medical community.
And with you getting your vaccine.
“It’s a scary time and scary situation (when someone has to go to the hospital),” she said. “I want to advocate for patients and reassure them we are there for you and doing everything for you. Discharging any COVID patient home, that’s a win. That’s a good feeling. That is why you get into the profession.”
In selecting its four representatives, the Raiders took nominations from health care providers throughout the valley. So Adrian’s colleagues and bosses nominated her. The other three professionals representing the Raiders are Drs. Nicholas Calica and Orlando Ozir and nurse Samantha Balsomo, who works with post-acute COVID patients.