As the San Francisco Bay Area gears up to host Super Bowl 50, the region's healthcare providers are also prepping for the big game.
As many as 1 million visitors are expected to descend upon the Bay Area, where the Carolina Panthers will face the Denver Broncos Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
San Francisco may be 45 miles north of the stadium, but the city has transformed part of its famed Embarcadero area into Super Bowl City, with nine days of festivities.
Kaiser Permanente, which has more than a dozen hospitals in the surrounding four-county area, is the Super Bowl's official host committee medical team. The Oakland-based health system has more than three dozen clinicians on the ground at the Embarcadero Center and the nearby Moscone Center, another venue playing host to the National Football League.
Kaiser doctors and nurses are staffing five medical-aid tents for the duration of all the activities, and more than 50 volunteers are also pitching in.
The free aid tents drew more than 400 people during their first six days of operation, said Dr. Hernando Garzon, Kaiser's director of emergency management.
NFL players have their own medical personnel, but their family members and other VIPs also will get treatment from Kaiser clinics.
While most of the ailments so far have been minor—from dislocated fingers from a fall to blisters and headaches—Kaiser is also working behind the scenes with city and county officials on emergency management services.
Across the region, local hospitals have braced themselves for the flood of patients that are expected to need urgent- and acute-care services during their visit. They too are on alert, and reviewing their disaster-preparedness plans.
The preparations began a year in advance. “We're integrated with their response process,” Garzon said. “We coordinate this through our emergency management process.”
This isn't the first time Kaiser has suited up for game day. It was also part of the medical team in 2013 at the America's Cup, an international sailing competition.
Kaiser has a number of wide-ranging community benefit programs and its Super Bowl participation is part of those efforts. But it wasn't hard to find people to staff the clinics.
“For the volunteers and the doctors, it's a chance to be part of a fun event,” Garzon said.