Honoring our Frontline Heroes: In March when most businesses and governments closed and our nation went into quarantine, those on the front lines in their roles as healthcare workers, educators, retail staff, first responders, and other essential service providers were thrust into hero status overnight. As men who uphold the values of Truth, Honor, and Personal Integrity, it is no surprise that multitudes of Chi Phi Brothers of all generations are among these Frontline Heroes. Our mission now is to thrust as many of these Brothers as possible into the spotlight, so that we can properly recognize them for the work they do.
“Help wherever needed;” Brother Hidalgo’s personal mantra and one that he implemented at the start of the pandemic.
When his hospital asked the Physical Therapy Department for volunteers to assist with COVID-19 patients, Hidalgo volunteered immediately. He naively thought it would be a great experience; he never imagined how humbling and life altering it would truly be.
Brother Hidalgo began his time in Physical Therapy working in an outpatient setting with athletes and other individuals who were, overall, in great health. However, as the virus quickly progressed, he found himself working on the hospital floor caring for COVID-19 positive patients. Those first few weeks were particularly challenging as he struggled to get accustomed to the extensive personal protective equipment required and the intense 90-degree (Fahrenheit) heat of the hospital floor (as it is believed that heat is a deterrent to the spread of the virus).
Instead of watching an athlete recover from a torn ACL, Hidalgo was now celebrating a patient’s ability to simply raise an arm above their head. Standing up, brushing teeth, and even smiling were major milestones for those battling COVID-19. When envisioning his Physical Therapy career, he never once thought it would include finding implicit joy in coloring and having simple conversations with patients slowly recovering from a deadly virus during a global pandemic. Yet to watch a patient at his absolute worst battle for his life while the virus wreaked havoc on his body, to walking out the doors of the hospital months later has been an experience that will never be paralleled.
It’s no surprise that when asked what advice he had for Brothers, he responded with this message:
“I can’t stress it enough—keep your mask on out of respect for others. If you can’t keep it on because it’s unbearable—stay inside. You’ve got to keep the mask on over your nose, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you, and please wash your hands.”
Richy Hidalgo, Nu Delta 2019
Florida State University
Physical Therapy Technician | Intensive Care Unit
Above: Brother Hidalgo, a recent graduate of Florida State University, never envisioned his role as a physical therapist would become so critical in a pandemic. He celebrates small victories with his patients recovering from COVID-19, even their ability to raise their arms.