Meeting the Challenge: Silver Linings during COVID-19

Life isn’t a straight line. It can take a U-turn at any moment. 

For Anthony Gobe, the exercise physiologist for Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Fit Kids, that U-turn was quite sharp: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony’s work hours were cut to zero. Suddenly, he went from a job he loved – exercising with local youth and teaching them healthy habits – to a reassignment position focused on screening entrants to Flagstaff Medical Center.  

This important role helps ensure the hospital is as safe as possible for colleagues and visitors alike, and it has two big silver linings for Anthony: First, he can pick up early shifts at will and take off at 2:30 p.m. to spend more time with his baby daughter, Ella. 

“When we’re putting our daughter down for sleep, she likes to roll around and she climbs all over you,” he said. “This is one of those memories that I will always cherish because she’s growing up so fast and I’m not going to have her climbing all over me here soon. If anything, she’s going to be trying to climb over the fence to get away from me. 

“I want to be present. I want to be there.” 

Secondly, Anthony is getting a holistic appreciation of our organization and all those who contribute to its success, especially the Security department. Among other duties, the reassignment position entails making sure no one is in the hospital who isn’t supposed to be. This has opened his eyes to people from all walks of life. Some want to use the bathroom, to grab a newspaper or eat at our cafeteria, and he has to turn them away. Others are on their way to work, and Anthony is charged with making sure they don’t have a temperature or any concerning symptoms. 

“I was able to meet a host of employees that worked for NAH, from the doctors that walk through the doors, the nurses, HR, all sorts of talented, creative, brilliant people,” he said. “I try not to think about the negative things too much, and I try to focus more on the positive…and just really focus on the good things that I have at that moment. Seeing people being out, being active and having fun, that’s been really, really great to see.” 

Anthony notes that, compared to many other people, he’s been very lucky overall during the pandemic: He hasn’t lost a loved one, and he’s still gainfully employed – one of more than 235 NAH colleagues who have taken temporary assignments. 

“For that I’m grateful,” he said. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to NAH administration. I know during this time that it has been tough for you guys. You’ve had a lot of hard decisions to make; decisions that I am grateful I haven’t had to make. Being able to work this reassignment position has meant so much to me.”