Even though athletics are currently halted, New Jersey athletic trainers (ATs) remain on the front lines of healthcare. No longer on the sidelines of an athletic event, ATs state-wide are now helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has caused an increased need for healthcare professionals and first responders - a need that athletic trainers are more than qualified to fill.
RWJBarnabas Health, has been able to repurpose their athletic training team to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. RWJBarnabas Health provides community-based outreach athletic training services to local secondary schools, colleges, professional athletes, performance artists, organizations, and workplaces. Currently supporting 37 athletic training partnerships across the state, RWJBH regional athletic trainers are based out of Rutgers University, RWJUH Somerset, RWJUH Hamilton, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and Monmouth Medical Center.
Athletic trainers are pivoting to roles such as:
- Staffing pool management: coordinating department/schedule/shift staffing needs to maximize the contributions of sports medicine and rehab department team members.
- Hospital Command Center: centralized point person/liaison for dealing with incoming COVID-related employee questions & concerns, staffing & procedure logistics.
- Supply Chain/Logistics Assistant: coordinating PPE distribution and helping address supply needs at hospitals.
- Employee Screener / Temperature checks: symptom screening for all employees and non-emergency department patients/guests entering hospital, distribution of PPE.
- Admin assist/front desk support: cross-trained to support hospital front desk to guide hospital visitors and coordinate various needs of non-COVID patients.
- Facilities and Operations department support: support hospital facilities, operations, and security team with a variety of behind-the-scenes administrative support roles.
- Transport: assist with moving transferred and discharged patients.
These essential roles allow the hospital system to continue treating patients efficiently and help flatten the curve of COVID-19.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the sacrifice, dedication, and adaptability our athletic training team has shown in supporting our hospital system in a variety of valuable roles. In addition to their contributions, they also are increasing the awareness of our profession amongst their hospital colleagues who do not normally work side-by-side with ATs,” said Ryan Stevens, Manager, Athletic Training/Physical Therapy/Fitness - RWJ Somerset and RWJ Hamilton.
Jatirah Diggs, ATC, athletic Trainer for RWJ Somerset and the Manville School District, has found the COVID-19 pandemic experience to be an eye opener. “This has reinforced that the smallest things behind-the-scenes, from screening employees for symptoms to helping restock supply centers within the hospitals, are necessary for our entire system to be effective.
Adapting to different situations is nothing new for athletic trainers. The 2020 National Athletic Training Month slogan “ATs Impact HealthCare Through Action” accurately describes this type of healthcare professional. Athletic trainers respond to emergencies and treat patients in hectic environments. Helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic is just another skill-set athletic trainers can add to their expertise.
In the months to come, athletic trainers will hopefully return to their athletic fields and clinics. Until then, these healthcare professionals will continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic for the greater good of all New Jersey.
ABOUT RWJBARNABAS HEALTH
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, RWJUH in New Brunswick, RWJUH Somerset in Somerville, RWJUH Hamilton, RWJUH Rahway and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital with a network of outpatient centers (Children’s Specialized Hospital) with its multiple outpatient centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.
RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health recently announced a partnership with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration will align RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center - brings a world class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside you, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials.
For more information related to COVID-19 please visit ATSNJ COVID-19 Informational Resources.