ER docs get reunion at Tremendous Bowl because of free tickets | Nationwide


CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) – It seems like finding out the email address of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not an easy task.

Just ask Lyn Aborn.

“I tried a number of different permutations … but they kept recovering,” says Aborn, an emergency medic in Redwood City, California. “So I decided to get old-fashioned. I typed out the letter, signed it, hand-addressed the envelope to Inspector Goodell at NFL Headquarters in New York City, and mailed it. And I remember my husband making fun of me. He says, “Nobody will ever read this.” I said, “Well, it’s the price of a postage stamp. So why not? ‘”

It turned out that someone read it. Maybe not Goodell himself, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Aborn and her team are now tied to the Super Bowl.

Incidentally, this team consists of a group of emergency doctors who defied their medical training and football watching during their stay at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and who – since completing the program and starting their medical careers in 2005 – have had a pact for one annual reunion closed.

The meeting has always been on the Super Bowl weekend. And they always saw the game on TV.

However, this year’s edition of their reunion will be in Tampa, Florida, where the 10 doctors – who still can’t quite believe this is happening – can watch the Kansas City Chiefs battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl LV from the Raymond James Stadium. You are among the approximately 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who have received free tickets from the NFL as a thank you for their service during the pandemic.

For those 10, of course, the gift from the NFL is going to help each of them get something big off their bucket lists. Neither of them have ever been to a Super Bowl. It was also a surefire way to get 100% attendance at one of their reunions for the first time since any of them can remember, and it’s a great opportunity for all of them to celebrate their friendships with one another and each other to support years.

But there is something else that presents the opportunity for members of the group:

To hope.

“All 10 of us are together”

They started as joint interns in 2002 and as such were part of the end of a bygone era.

Back then, as had been the case for generations, trained doctors meandered through a brutal boot camp, often working more than 100 hours a week in a hospital – sometimes they got so exhausted that they fell asleep during shifts.

“It’s a pretty difficult time when you work more than 130 hours a week. You rely on your internship class to protect yourself. They give each other their pets to pet. It’s a really tough point in your life, ”says Manoj Pariyadath, who is now an ambulance doctor at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem. “So you really fit in with the people in your class. And we happened to have a class in which all 10 of us got along. “

(In 2003 the Accreditation Council for Medical Graduate Education issued new rules that limit residents to an average working week of 80 hours and a maximum of 30 hours of work at a time.)

They all also enjoyed spending much of their precious time out of the hospital during the NFL season to gather around a television and watch a game in each other’s company. So the roommates who gathered to watch the Super Bowl at the end of each season was just a natural occurrence.

But when their training days came to an end, everyone agreed that it was a deliberate excuse to reconnect.

Jill Antoniazzi, now emergency physician at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, recalls, “We’ve been in all positions across the country – in California and Texas, South Carolina, different parts of North Carolina – but we wanted to stay really tight-knitting Relationship goes. So we decided we had to have an annual reunion … and we decided the Super Bowl was the perfect weekend because we, # 1, are big football fans.

“As an emergency doctor, we also work on weekends and evenings and we knew that we could only apply for this free weekend (since the appointment was set so far in advance). … and although it is a kind of vacation in this country, it is usually not associated with family obligations. “

It would prove to be a plan built to last.


For the 15 years since they all dispersed, there has been a reunion every year on the Super Bowl weekend.

Usually some members of the group didn’t make it – because of weddings or births, that sort of thing. One of the original members never actually attended, but just a few years after completing the program, Antoniazzi began bringing her significant other, Nilesh Patel (now her husband, also Atrium’s ambulance), and the group is now considering he is an honorary member of their intern class.

Traditionally, instead of getting hotel rooms, they rent a large house so they can maximize their time together. They also set out to cook a huge meal on Sunday celebrating the cuisine of the cities represented in the Super Bowl. On several occasions they have brought spouses and children and made it a family affair.

The reunion has often taken place in the Carolinas, as seven of the ten – including Jayne Kendall in Charlotte, Jen Hannum in Winston-Salem, Heston LaMar in Wilmington, and Dave French in Charleston, South Carolina – are based there.

But they have also gone west, with previous meetings in Austin; Napa Valley; Portland (where group member Erin Kuniholm lives); San Francisco; Santa Fe (where group member Pat Craddock lived before moving to Colorado); Sedona, Arizona; and last February Las Vegas.

For those who could attend, the Vegas trip was the last time on a plane. Not long after that, COVID turned her work life upside down.

However, if the pandemic has an advantage for these 10, it is this: They have been in closer regular contact since March than they have been since their stay.

“There has obviously been a lot of activity in our group text over the last year,” said Kendall, a regional vice president for US Acute Care Solutions who also works in emergency rooms at various atrium hospitals in the Charlotte area. “At first we would go back and forth and say, ‘What type of face mask does your hospital have? Do you have enough face masks? ‘And then it was,’ What’s the latest you hear about treating this? ‘

“We actually had a happy couple of hours at Zoom, just to talk. We’ve all trained together, we all know about emergency medicine, we all see this dissipate in front of us … so it was very cool to have a group of people that you feel close and connected with and who say what you think and feel during a really tough year. It was very cathartic. “

Then one day in mid-December, the group text lit up with interesting news: The NFL was considering the possibility of inviting vaccinated health care workers to the Super Bowl.

Almost immediately, Lyn Aborn tried to find Roger Goodell’s email address.

“We were amazed”

“My friends are not the ones who broadcast their victims,” ​​Aborn wrote in her letter to the NFL commissioner on December 18.

“It’s what we signed up for, after all. But it was a stressful year. And we deserve some fun and the chance to be with those who supported us and experienced the same pressures that the past year put on us. “

After failing to find his email contact information, she added her own to the bottom of her letter, printed it out, signed it, and then wrote Goodell’s name and address for the NFL offices – 345 Park Ave, New York, NY , 10154 – on an envelope and waved her husband away when she dropped him in the mail.

About a week and a half later, she received an email from an NFL employee thanking her for her service and saying the league was still working on a plan to honor healthcare workers. Aborn suspected that the NFL had received tons of similar requests and that they sent the same response to everyone who came up.

However, a second email came in mid-January. This time the NFL offered all 10 free tickets to the Super Bowl.

“We were amazed,” says Aborn. “I mean, I can imagine how much mail you have to get in the NFL. The fact that someone read the letter and that they actually manifested themselves in this incredible opportunity kind of blew me away. … I’m very grateful. Sometimes I think a good old-fashioned letter does the trick. “

It is not known how many of the 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who received free tickets from the NFL, what this group of emergency doctors are – that is, health care workers who searched for the tickets for the tickets. The NFL didn’t respond to emails. (Maybe we should have sent a letter?)

However, they almost certainly belong to a select category. According to the NFL’s website, the majority of the 7,500 work in hospitals and health systems in Tampa and central Florida, while all 32 NFL organizations could only select four vaccinated health workers from their communities.

In any case, the 10 doctors realize how lucky they are.

“This is an unplanned but very amazing blessing for our group to get together,” said Manoj Pariyadath, who pointed out that before the NFL gift, the plan was to only see the East Coasters in Wilmington this weekend. “We always talked about having one of our reunions at a Super Bowl at some point. But over the years this is likely to become less durable as we have more children and the costs go up. … the fact that it happens is really cool. “

And the journey also symbolizes something for everyone that is even greater than their bond as friends.

“For many weeks and even months,” says Antoniazzi, “there was this understanding that things were going to get worse before they get better, so you were just kind of in braces mode.” And between the media and work and the kids out of school, there really was essentially no escape. At any time in life it seemed like it (the pandemic) was there, and if you are in the profession we are, you talk about it at work and in the end you talk about it at home.

“So it was really just a hopeful moment. It’s something that makes you feel like we may eventually be able to return to some semblance of normalcy. “

“There is a real sense in it,” she says, “of hope.”

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