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ER physician at University Health Network teams up with basketball legend to combat COVID-19

As the COVID-19 patient population at University Health Network increases, emergency department physician Dr. David Carr can feel the pressure rising on him and his colleagues.

“In many respects this is what we signed up for,” says Carr, who is also an associate professor in the University of Toronto’s department of family and community medicine in the Faculty of Medicine. “To care for the sickest – it's what we are trained to do.”

Carr's mantra throughout the pandemic has been: “It can't just be up to us to fight the virus – it's up to everyone. And, that means staying home.”

But he wondered if all Canadians – especially younger people, have been getting the message. Then an idea struck. “A crazy idea really,” says Carr.

He put out a call on Twitter to people he though hold influence with a younger demographic – namely, star athletes. A basketball fan, Carr reached out to some of his favorite players, past and present. The next day, he was surprised to see a reply from one of his athlete heroes: NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash.

“Happy to be involved,” said the native of Victoria, B.C. who earned the nickname “Captain Canada” for leading the Canadian men’s basketball team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

"You guys are the heroes now," Nash wrote.

Carr had his all-star. Now, all he needed was a way to spread the message.

Enter Vinay Virmani, partner and chief content officer of Toronto-based Uninterrupted Canada, a digital content platform for athletes with some high-profile backers including Drake and LeBron James.

With more than a million social media followers and strong ties in the broadcast media world, Vinay provided the much-needed network to amplify the message.

“We wanted to help our frontline healthcare workers,” he says. “And we're so grateful to Steve Nash for lending his time to help amplify a really important message of awareness that everyone needs to play a role in helping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

The broadcast took the form of a Q&A on Zoom where Nash interviewed Carr about his experience fighting COVID-19 in the UHN emergency department, how important it is to wash your hands often, practise physical distancing, stay home and take care of each other.

“You have to live your life like you have COVID-19,” Carr says during the interview.

Carr says he was thrilled that Nash agreed to lend his profile to getting out such an important message.

“There have been so many players who have stepped up to fight this pandemic and to have Steve Nash offer to help was amazing,” says Carr. “I've seen so many cases of generosity of others and overwhelming public support of our front-line healthcare workers. This project is just another example of that. Now it is up to the public to be the heroes – to stay distanced and safe.”

This story was originally published by UHN News. Read the original story here.

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