Two Sarasota long term healthcare heroes were part of history Sunday as they stood inside Raymond James Stadium and watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become Super Bowl LV champions.
The tickets were gifted to Heartland Health Care & Rehabilitation Center of Sarasota, a 140-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, which held a random drawing of twice-vaccinated staff to choose who would attend. Administrator Nicole Verdon and Physical Therapist Michelle Pahl were selected for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Before the game, Nicole and Michelle enjoyed a Healthcare Heroes tailgate party planned by the National Football League and a photo opportunity next to the original Lombardi Trophy at the NFL Hall of Fame display. Upon entering the field, they were welcomed and congratulated by everyone working and attending the game. A special tribute to healthcare workers, as well as premade signs, were all part of the experience to recognize their endless dedication to keeping Floridians, including our state’s seniors, safe during the pandemic.
“It is amazing to see and feel the recognition of health care workers at this level” stated Verdon, “The entire industry, including long term care, has been hit exceptionally hard. It has been a harrowing year.”
Verdon continued, “Michelle was especially deserving of this experience. She was working in our COVID unit 8+ hours a day, in full gear, with a smile behind her mask. She shows up every day, giving all that she can to seeing her rehabilitation patients improve their physical skills. She helped out at sister facilities when needed, without having to ask twice. She’s an amazing team player! Her story, along with every other person behind the closed doors of long term care, are deserving of this special recognition. It is our hope that they continue from the community, and people recognize the importance of wearing masks and vaccinations to move our industry forward.”