News Magazine

Seahawks honor ‘health care heroes’ by sending 4 to the Super Bowl

Boray “Bo” Thach feared the worst when one of his managers at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma told him one day to give him a call in a half-hour so they could talk about something.

The manager quickly told him not to worry, that “it’s more of a good news thing.’’

Still, for 30 minutes or so, Thach had no idea what was to come.

“I was really anxious to hear what the news is,’’ Thach said.

At 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, he found out he was getting a trip to the Super Bowl, selected by the Seahawks as one of four local health care workers to represent the team in an NFL program honoring “health care heroes.’’

“It took me about 10 minutes to realize that this was actually the real deal,’’ Thach said. “I kept waiting for a camera crew to burst through the door and say I got punked. I was looking for Ashton Kutcher.’’

Thach, who is a registered nurse at St. Joe’s, will be joined in the Seattle contingent by Jocelyn Jacoby, a nutrition assistant at Virginia Mason Medical Center; Cheryl Caraan, a critical care nurse at Virginia Mason Medical Center; and Lauren Pier, a critical care change nurse at St. Anthony Hospital.

All are employees of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, the Seahawks’ official health care partner.

All have also seen their workloads increase exponentially the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year has been definitely overwhelming,’’ said Thach, a 26-year-old Tacoma native who joined St. Joseph Medical Center in August 2018 working as a newly graduated registered nurse on the ninth floor caring for medical/telemetry patients. “But we have to put that aside and remember what our common goal is, to give our patients the utmost care.’’

All of which means a well-deserved vacation for Thach and the three others honored by the Seahawks.

Thach had a red-eye flight Friday night and returns Monday night, and said he planned to take some shorts with the hope of basking in a little warm weather.

Then on Sunday he’ll attend the Super Bowl, just his second NFL game.

Thach said he’s been a Seahawks fan for years but has only attended one game at Lumen Field.

Thach said he had no idea that health care workers were being honored, calling it “a complete surprise.’’ A news release stated that Thach is “well known for his positive energy.’’

“It’s definitely a huge honor,’’ he said. “I definitely feel pretty highly appreciated.’’

As noted in a news release announcing the selections of the four to go to the Super Bowl, all who will make the trip will have completed COVID-19 vaccination before leaving for Tampa.

And all events at the Super Bowl are being conducted in accordance with CDC and local health guidelines.

The NFL announced earlier this week that 25,000 fans will be in attendance for the game, including 7,500 health care workers.

“As the NFL season culminates in Tampa Bay, we are thanking our health care heroes who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL executive vice president of club business and league events. “We are honored to salute those who have demonstrated dedication, commitment and courage and deserve our deepest gratitude and admiration.”

Upon entering the stadium, all fans will receive free PPE kits that include a mask (emblazoned with a Super Bowl logo) and hand sanitizer, and Thach said he will take all the usual precautions while on his trip.

When it’s over, he will continue not only with his current job but also his pursuit of a doctorate of nursing practice in psychiatry at the University of Washington.

Thach said his role has changed markedly in the past year, with more time spent educating patients as much as possible about the unknowns of the pandemic.

Building relationships with patients, he said, is critical and something he said will be a focus in his future after finishing his doctorate.

“It’s letting people know that it’s OK to suffer from a mental health condition and to seek help when they need it,’’ he said. “That’s my ultimate goal to serve the community in that aspect.’’

While he’s a committed Seahawks fan, Thach said he does have something of a rooting interest Sunday, saying he thinks it would be neat to see Tampa Bay win the game in its home stadium.

“I think it’s going to be a close one,’’ he said. “I feel like Tom Brady is going to pull through because he has Tampa Bay in his corner. But I can only imagine the pressure he has.’’

Brady would likely say the same about him.