Chandler nurse saluted during Super Bowl special SanTan Sun News

Chandler nurse saluted during Super Bowl special

February 11th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler nurse saluted during Super Bowl special
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

A Chandler nurse recently got a comforting surprise from one of her football heroes while taking a break from work in her hospital’s COVID-19 unit.

Haley Bowser, a Chandler High graduate and Dignity Health nurse, was not expecting to meet a player from one of her favorite teams when she was approached to do a television interview a few days before the Super Bowl match between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During a CBS special spot-lighting health care workers from across the country, Bowser’s interview was suddenly interrupted by a message from Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker.    

“I just wanted to thank you and appreciate all the things that you’ve done during this pandemic,” Baker told Bowser during their virtual chat. “You guys are the true heroes.”

Baker, who has been playing for the Cardinals since 2017, was one of several National Football League players who partnered with CBS to pay tribute to nurses for working throughout the pandemic.

Bowser later remembered feeling shocked and flattered that Baker took the time to chat with a long-time fan like herself.

“I was definitely taken aback,” she recalled. “I was completely elated and ecstatic I was able to meet (Baker).”

The 28-year-old nurse had seen other news interviews of athletes and celebrities surprising health care workers, yet she never really caught on that she herself was being set up for a similar surprise.

“You always kind of hope maybe you’re one of those people, but you still never expect it,” she said.

It feels great knowing high-profile celebrities genuinely care about the sacrifices that have been made by nurses and doctors over the last year, Bowser added

“It was awesome to know our work is not going unnoticed by somebody who is famous,” she said.

Bowser grew up watching football games with her father and always kept track of how the Cardinals were performing each season. The team’s players have often embedded themselves in the Arizona community, she said, and have made a positive impact on people who grew up around here.

Bowser has been a nurse the last five years and had been assigned to a unit specializing in patients recovering from heart attacks.

When the coronavirus began spreading last March, her unit at Dignity Health Gilbert Medical Center quickly transformed into the hospital’s COVID-19 treatment center.

There was certainly a learning curve at the beginning of the pandemic, Bowser recalled, but the hospital’s nurses and doctors quickly adjusted to all the new protocols and guidelines they needed to follow.

“We’ve learned so much throughout the last year in how to take care of these patients,” she said.

It has been exhausting at times to be working on the frontlines of a global health crisis, Bowser said, yet she hasn’t lost her drive to keep doing a job she’s always wanted to do.

“I take every shift as they come,” she said. “Some days are a little easier, but I come in ready to work every day.”

More than 14,000 Arizonans have succumbed to the coronavirus over the last year and hundreds of new cases are still getting reported to the state Department of Health Services on a daily basis.

As Arizona continues rolling out its disbursement of COVID-19 vaccines, Bowser said she’s hopeful the pandemic will soon start to subside and her unit will return to regular operations.

But locals need to remain vigilant about wearing masks and washing their hands, she added, because the community could be getting close to finally averting this calamity.

“We can see that light at the end of the tunnel within this next year,” Bowser said.

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