Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Move from the Sideline to the Frontline to Assist with Pandemic Response

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Athletic trainers across the state are providing their skills and expertise to provide support to the overwhelmed healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I love having the opportunity to help out. I’m very thankful that I am able to help flatten the curve and keep everything running smoothly. Every little bit of help matters. - Joann Zazula, Athletic Trainer, Penn State Health St. Joseph's.

Athletic trainers are licensed allied healthcare professionals, who in collaboration with a physician, can provide primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Secondary schools and colleges/universities employ a large majority of Pennsylvania’s athletic trainers. With school districts and colleges/universities closing and suspending intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, ATs are employing their skills in new ways.

Athletic trainers who are employed by hospitals have taken on new roles assisting with screening patients as they arrive at the hospital and drive up testing sites. Joann Zazula is an athletic trainer at Alvernia University employed through Penn State Health St. Joseph’s. Since she is not able to perform her typical duties she has taken on a new role of screening patients visiting the hospital. Her new role involves asking patients who are reporting for appointments at the medical offices of Penn State Health St. Joseph’s a series of questions which includes asking them if they have been experiencing cough, shortness of breath, fever, or if they have been contacted by state or federal officials informing them they have been exposed to someone with the COVID-19 virus. The other role which she fulfills is serving as first stop of the drive up testing site. Her job is to ensure the patient has a prescription from a physician ordering the test. If they do not, she helps them with the process of having their physician fax a prescription or set up a telemedicine appointment through Penn State Health. Reflecting on her role in the pandemic response, Joann says, “I love having the opportunity to help out. I’m very thankful that I am able to help flatten the curve and keep everything running smoothly. Every little bit of help matters.”

Another way athletic trainers are answering a call to action is through the Go4Ellis app. Go4Ellis is a mobile app that was originally designed to connect sporting event planners with athletic trainers to provide the appropriate health care for their events and the athletes participating. Go4Ellis has partnered with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) to adjust the platform to support hospital systems and health care organizations who are in need of additional staffing to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort has created over 2,500 jobs for athletic trainers nationwide over the past five weeks.

You can visit the PATS website (https://gopats.org) to stay up to date on the most current happenings with PATS. You can also find PATS on social media:

Instagram: gopatsat
Twitter: gopatsat
Facebook: Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society

For more information regarding this topic or to schedule an interview with PATS President George Roberts, MEd, LAT, ATC, please contact Linda Mazzoli, MS, LAT, ATC, PATS Executive director at exdirectorpats@gmail.com.

The Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society, Inc. is a progressive organization of licensed healthcare professionals who work under the direction of a licensed physician. Our society continues to increase public awareness and education regarding Athletic Trainers and the Athletic Training profession while serving as the premier source of information for public safety, injury and illness prevention, early intervention, patient care, and healthcare delivery for the physically active in the Commonwealth.
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