Medical staff embraces coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic continues to play spoiler to Cleveland State University athletics.  Not only is it affecting athletics, it also is affecting the way the Viking athletic medical staff handles its business.

With no athletes to attend to right now, the medical staffers have less on their plate to contend with during this time. But they are the ones who are working to help protect the student athletes against the virus. 

Without spring sports, the medical staff is trying to remain positive and look forward to the fall athletic season. Head athletic trainer Jackie Wise is taking all the steps necessary to protect the fall teams if they can get back on the field. 

As a medical profession, we will continue to follow best practices with wearing gloves, hand washing, cleaning the treatment tables and equipment that our S-A’s [student athletes] use,” she said. “We have hand sanitizer readily available. We will also follow any extra precautions that are recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Taking all the precautions needed to keep Cleveland State's team's safe is always the staff's number one priority. But the virus did hit close to campus when women's basketball coach Chris Kielsmeier showed symptoms.

While it was a scary feeling around the staff and teams, Wise said even though this was a hectic point in time, they were able to remain calm and follow all the protocols. 

“We were all very worried about [Kielsmeier] when we learned he had tested positive,” she said. “Our athletic department is a close-knit group and it did make the coronavirus a lot more real when it happened to one of our family members.” 

“Our director of athletics, head team physician, President Sands, and Forest Faison, senior vice president for research & innovation/chief healthcare strategy officer at Cleveland State, came up with a plan to contact all those who were in direct contact with [Kielsmeier] and had them all self-quarantine,” she said. “Most importantly, we are all thankful that [Kielsmeier] is going to be okay and is getting better daily.”

As top health officials are putting rules in place like the social distancing guidelines, it can become harder for the trainers moving forward. While trainers do help the athletes stretch and get ready for games, it may now be harder if the trainers cannot get as close for the time being. 

Wise said that, although the fall sports season is still months away, fans, players and medical staff just have to remain patient.

“We have to be patient through this process and see what steps are needed to integrate back into the work environment,” she said. “When we get to return to campus and our student-athletes are permitted to return to practice and competition again, it should be safe for all of us to go about our jobs.”

With long hours on the job each year, it takes away from the amount of time the medical staff can see their families. With the coronavirus spreading, trainers now have even more of a challenge in staying away from their families.

Wise said that there is always a concern of spreading it, even though a person may not show any symptoms. She also said to follow the steps that health officials have been saying since the beginning. 

“There is always concern that we could unknowingly pass the virus on to a family member,” she said. “Keeping away from those who are most vulnerable, cleaning/sanitizing everything, hand washing, etc., and self quarantine at the first signs of COVID-19 symptoms,” are the steps she outlined.

While everyone is changing the way they are doing things for the time being, Wise says it will feel different but an answer to this virus will help get situations back to normal. 

“I assume it will feel a bit different at first,” she said.  “I hope there will be a treatment or a vaccine available so all of us can return to work, enjoy our families, friends and social activities again.”