Spaulding Rehab’s own Primma Valera, a Rehab Aide on the 7th Floor BI Unit for more than 20 years, was among 20 “superhero” colleagues from across Mass General Brigham’s (MGB) network that joined other New England health care workers as guests of Robert Kraft, the Patriots and the National Football League at Super Bowl LV in Tampa last Sunday, Feb. 6.
The mission of the trip, which was planned under NFL and CDC guidance, was two-fold: to recognize and thank a representative group of the countless health care workers, and to celebrate and emphasize the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Last April, when our plane returned with masks from China, 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,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “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. Once again, we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the healthcare heroes who have risked their well-being to ensure ours. They are truly superheroes to us.”
Valera earned the trip because of her dedication to delivering care throughout the pandemic and because she is fully vaccinated.
In addition to a trip on the Patriots team plane and a ticket to the big game, Valera and her MGB colleagues received transportation from Gillette Stadium to Logan Airport with a police escort, and a ticket to the NFL TikTok Tailgate concert headlined by Miley Cyrus exclusively for vaccinated healthcare workers.
The full group of healthcare workers hailed from all six New England states and represented a range of hospitals and roles, all of which have been supporting COVID-19 units during the pandemic. The Kraft family offered four tickets to each of the governors outside of Massachusetts, who then selected healthcare superheroes from their respective states, for a total of 20 individuals representing Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The remaining tickets were distributed to many of the not-for-profit hospitals throughout Massachusetts, including Spaulding, that continue to care for COVID-19 patients. All attending healthcare workers had been fully vaccinated no later than Jan. 24, or 14 days prior to travel.
Valera and the other healthcare superheroes will departed from Boston Logan Airport the morning of Sunday, Feb. 7. The guests arrived and boarded the Patriots plane from the very same hangar that received the plane filled with 1.2 million respirator masks on April 2, 2020.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft was on hand to greet these superheroes when they arrived at Tampa International Airport. They returned to Boston on the Patriots team plane after the game, arriving back at Gillette Stadium late in the night.