Dr. Mark Saatzer ’14 is a currently a Surgery Resident at Riverside Community Hospital, but just six years ago he was spending most of his time at Hart Park as a member of the Chapman University baseball team. Now in his first year as a Resident, the former standout first baseman finds himself on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark works in the hospital every day, mostly confined to the operating room. For the last few months, COVID-19 has forced Riverside Community Hospital to tightly manage their PPE (personal protective equipment) on all floors as well as in the operating room. This has led to a shortage of supplies and caused the hospital to restrict access to cases. He also describes a change in surgical load as elective surgeries have been postponed. While he still performs emergent and urgent surgeries for those who need timely aid, the hospital has stopped elective surgeries as they do not know how the virus is transmitted.

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Mark describes the outpouring of support from the local community. There have been lines of cars waiting outside the entrance to the hospital during shift changes, cheering and waiving signs as doctors and nurses go to work. There are also handmade cards and signs posted around the hospital, thanking the healthcare workers putting their lives at risk to fight the pandemic.

Mark credits his time on the baseball team with influencing how he is facing being on the front lines. “In baseball, each of my teammates was always just a single piece in a larger team, a small part of something greater”, he says. “Now during this crisis, us healthcare workers are just a small part in a larger fight for the health and safety of our fellow man.”

Mark notes that healthcare workers put themselves on the front lines each and every day knowing that they could be infected whether or not there is a pandemic, but that he wouldn’t have it any other way.