SPRINGFIELD — Two Baystate Health employees and one Mercy Medical Center employee are among 76 healthcare providers from across New England — all vaccinated against COVID-19 — granted an all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla., including round-trip travel on the New England Patriots’ team plane.
Dr. Sarah Haessler and Stephen Boyle Sr. of Baystate Health and Cherie Rodriguez of Mercy Medical Center will fly to Tampa this weekend as guests of the Kraft family. The gesture comes 10 months after the Krafts sent the Patriots’ team plane to China to secure and retrieve needed personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
The mission of the Super Bowl trip is two-fold: to recognize and thank a representative group of the countless healthcare ‘superheroes’ in New England, and to celebrate and spread the important message of getting vaccinated.
Haessler, hospital epidemiologist and infectious-disease physician, was tasked with ensuring that Baystate Health was prepared for every possible communicable threat in order to keep patients, team members, and the community safe. She has been the primary content expert and point person on the ground for several aspects of the pandemic.
Boyle, director of Hospitality, is responsible for food service, clinical nutrition, environmental services, patient transport, and bed management for Baystate Health. He has worked tirelessly seven days a week for months to create safe work areas and provide for the 12,000 Baystate Health employees and thousands of patients every day.
Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist, has worked closely with COVID-19 patients at Mercy, providing the care and therapy necessary for the best possible outcome.
Dr. Reginald Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health of New England, noted that “the pandemic has posed new and significant challenges for healthcare providers and support staff at every level. Often putting aside fears for their own health and safety, they have met these challenges with clinical excellence, adaptability, professionalism, and grace.”
Last April, when the plane returned from China, Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said, “we never could have imagined the devastation this pandemic would cause, nor could we have dreamed of the heroic stories and achievements that have come to be as a result, especially the dedication of healthcare workers on the front lines and the creation of safe and effective vaccines. Ten months later, it’s an honor for us to celebrate these healthcare workers by giving them a well-deserved break for a day and an opportunity to enjoy the Super Bowl, a reality that is only made possible because of the vaccines. We hope that in doing so, others are also encouraged to get vaccinated as they are able.”
In addition to one Super Bowl LV ticket and the opportunity to fly on the Patriots team plane, the 76 healthcare workers selected for this trip will also receive the following, courtesy of the Kraft family with help from the NFL: transportation from Gillette Stadium to Logan Airport with police escort; a ticket to the NFL TikTok Tailgate concert headlined by Miley Cyrus exclusively for vaccinated healthcare workers; a two-night complimentary hotel stay provided by Mark Stebbins and Leo Xarras of XSS Hotels, owner of both the Renaissance Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn at Patriot Place; a Patriots gift bag; a $100 Visa gift card to spend at Raymond James Stadium; and ground transportation in Tampa.