It may not seem like it at first, but if you take a closer look, fullbacks and certified anesthesiologist assistants are quite similar.
Both have a primary responsibility to assist those around them. Take a look at former Georgia fullback and Athens native Josh Sailors. As a fullback, he could be asked to add extra pass protection to a quarterback as a pocket collapses, or clear a lane for his running back to walk into the end zone. As an anesthesiologist, he spends his days providing anesthesia for patients undergoing surgery, covering labor and delivery for epidural placement and C-sections and providing anesthesia to other departments such as cardiology and interventional radiology for patients going through procedures there.
Both also can be asked to do things out of the ordinary for them. As a fullback, Sailors could be asked to become the ball carrier he’s been asked to protect. As an anesthesiologist, well, as Sailors says, it can get “interesting”, especially the past two months.
“The last two months have been definitely been interesting,” Sailors said. “We have had to deal with a lot of uncertainty about how to best prepare for the expected surge that hit Italy’s healthcare system so hard, how to handle the COVID patients when they inevitably showed up, and how to deal any other fallout that was likely to occur as the virus spread and took precedence over the elective surgeries and procedures. In the early phases there were no protocols, most of the agencies that we look to for guidance were learning on the fly just like we were.
“On a personal note, I think I had to intubate either the first few PUI, person under investigation for COVID, that came to surgery, and we essentially had to create many of these protocols on the fly that would guide future management of these patients. This is definitely a unique situation, as most procedures and illnesses have defined protocols we can follow, but we had to create many through simple trial and error.”
A 2015 honors graduate from the Emory University School of Medicine, Sailors is now an Anesthesiologist Assistant Specialist with Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. Two months later however, and Sailors has begun to see a change in the hospital scene, but that was not always the case.
“At this point things are moving back to normal,” Sailors said. “Elective cases are back in almost full swing, and we have the added benefit of rapid COVID testing now to monitor all incoming new patients to minimize and negate the risk of spreading COVID. Everyone throughout the hospital wears PPE continuously, maintains their distance when possible and we all minimize going through the different units throughout the hospital. A couple of months ago, however, it felt like a ghost town. Even when cases were down to just a handful a day, the halls were empty, we stayed in our respective areas and very few patients were coming through the hospital doors out of fear for COVID.”
Sailors played the ever-important role as a walk-on member for Georgia’s football team from 2007 to 2011. His younger brother and fellow Oconee County High School graduate, Blake Sailors, joined the Bulldog scout team in 2009 and worked himself onto a variety of special team roles during his career. In addition, the Sailors brothers’ dad, Dr. David Sailors, has served as one of the team physicians for nearly 20 years since he is a vascular surgeon in the Athens area.
Adapting on the fly is not easy to do. You would think his playing days and adapting to audibles would have prepared him for it, but for Sailors, it was something different he took away from his days of being a Bulldog.
“Definitely the discipline and ability to focus during adversity,” Sailors said. “Every single day came with its own set of unknowns that we had to deal with, which had the potential to derail any plans and throw you for a loop. Being able to take each challenge head on and focus and compartmentalize allows me to bring my best to work every day no matter what gets thrown at me, and still stay positive and optimistic. I can’t emphasize enough how important the team aspect is. Being able to communicate and trust coworkers has been the single most valuable asset any of us can pull from.”
Now almost four months since the beginning of quarantine, Sailors is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Things are definitely trending better. There are hotspots in the country but a lot of the country is actually doing well. Many people with chronic health problems have stayed at home, and those health problems have gotten worse. It is safe to come back to the hospital and to your doctor offices to get care. It’s riskier to your overall health to let those health problems deteriorate than to sit at home because you’re worried you’re going to get COVID if you go out. We have gotten this far together and things will continue to improve, so stay optimistic and let’s get things back on track to get the football season going for fall and as always, Go Dawgs!”