The ice hockey team missed having its season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by less than two weeks. The team’s season ended on Saturday, Feb. 29, in the MASCAC Quarterfinals, and on March 11, the conference announced all of its teams would go on a temporary pause. The following day, the NCAA announced the cancellation of all winter and spring championships.
Defenseman Sean Gavin ’22 was just two weeks into his offseason, but rather than kick his feet up at the end of a grueling sophomore campaign, Gavin returned home to Galena, Ohio, to work in patient transportation at Grant Medical Center in Downtown Columbus.
Gavin, a chemistry major with a concentration in pre-medicine, has been working at the hospital for over three years. As a patient transporter, his primary job responsibility is moving patients from unit to unit throughout the hospital. His job requires him to interact with patients with a wide variety of injuries and illnesses, and he regularly transports patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The uncertainty of the virus has kept Gavin and the rest of the hospital staff on their toes throughout the past three months.
“There have been many unknowns as to what proper procedures should be when handling patients with, and even without, COVID-19,” says Gavin. “Safety for all has stayed a main priority, so the (hospital) leadership has done whatever it can.”
Gavin said the volume of patients has fluctuated from day to day at the hospital, but believes there has been a noticeable uptick in recent weeks.
In addition to playing for the men’s ice hockey team, Gavin is also the vice president of the Pre-Health Club and the communications representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He credits his chemistry workload and campus involvement with preparing him to work through the pandemic.
“Being a student-athlete has helped me face adversity in these trying times, and to find new and creative ways to get the job done,” he says.
Gavin has noticed a major parallel between his current work and playing hockey for Worcester State over the past three months. “Being on the hockey team is like having 29 brothers. There is an unspoken sense of trust among everyone, and if you are in a tough situation, you know your teammates will have your back. There is that same trust here in the hospital. There is this feeling of family here at Grant and that makes working in these tense times just a little easier.”
The sense of camaraderie among the hospital workers is a major reason Gavin wants to stay in health care long term.
“My end goal is to work as an emergency room physician or a trauma surgeon, and every day I work, pandemic or not, it makes me want to strive for my goal even more,” he says.
During the pandemic, Gavin had the opportunity to shadow an emergency room physician at Grant, which helped solidify his plans for the future. He aspires to enter medical school upon his graduation from Worcester State.
Gavin admits that the pandemic has been very stressful at times, but has found ways to cope. “It does not help that ice rinks and gyms are closed, but I have been running and working out with the small amount of equipment at my house,” he says. “These times have been trying on all health care workers, but it has only brought the staff closer together and there is an even greater feeling of unity.”
Seeing the impact COVID-19 has made on countless lives, Gavin says it is important we remain vigilant to keep the virus from spreading even further.
“Even though there are new findings every day, there are many unknowns still. With that said, please listen to reliable scientific sources, not social media and politicians. Practice good hand-washing; it goes a long way. Finally, although wearing a face mask seems like a nuisance, please wear one when out. It is more to protect others from yourself since you can be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.”
Ultimately for Gavin, all of his hard work on the ice is why he feels he has found success in the hospital.
“Hockey is a game of decisions and quick thinking. You want to prepare and consider what is going to happen next with every action you make. The same goes for working in the hospital. Every little thing you do can potentially change the outcome for a patient or how a colleague’s day is going. Whether it is saying ‘Hi,’ picking someone up, giving someone hope, or actually how the patient is treated, it all matters.”
If you or someone you know is a current or former Worcester State student-athlete working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact Sports Information Director Curtis Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally posted on the Worcester State Athletics website.
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