In late May, Nancy Yam, PharmD, MHA, BCPS, associate chief pharmacy officer at UC San Diego Health, found out she would be the health care worker throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the San Diego Padres’ “reopening game” planned for June 17, two days after the state lifted most COVID restrictions for outdoor gatherings. She was shocked. But then she also prepared and practiced throwing a baseball with a friend, who happened to be a former MLB pitcher.
UC San Diego Health is the official health care provider for the Padres, and under Yam’s management at the Petco Park Vaccination Super Station, as well as other sites, more than 500,000 COVID vaccine doses have been administered so far. The Padres wanted to honor all the hard work health care workers have done and are still doing to get San Diego (and the country) back to almost “normal,” and Yam delivered with a strike (well, close enough). We asked her how this event all came about.
When did you find out you would be throwing the ceremonial first pitch?
Yam: I was getting some work done on the evening of May 25 and saw the email from our chief marketing and communications officer, Kim Kennedy, come through. I remember tearing up and thinking how did we get here? I told my kids and they were so excited about it! I couldn’t believe it and was in a little bit of shock.
How were you chosen?
Yam: UC San Diego Health is the official health care provider for the San Diego Padres. My understanding is that they reached out to our CEO, Patricia S. Maysent, and the marketing team, who then in turn suggested me for the first pitch. It’s not lost on me that this was and is a team effort by many people and I was lucky I was asked. I continue to be so grateful and appreciative for that opportunity to represent so many people who have worked so hard in healthcare.
How did it feel being on the field in front of 40,000 fans?
Yam: Exhilarating. It was exciting, but I was a nervous wreck and things moved so fast. I knew it was reopening day and that the stadium would be full. I saw the mound and home plate and thought it was much farther than I thought it would be.
It was a good thing I practiced with Aaron (former MLB pitcher) and Jennifer Harang that past weekend. I went to junior high and high school with them and then our kids ended up at the same school so we were able to reconnect. We had a fun practice and caught up on the past year of social distancing. My kids, Lucas and Ella, thought I was pretty cool to know them. My son got to throw with him too so that was exciting for him.
To be at Petco Park that evening felt almost “normal;” and what life may soon be like as it was before. It was so special and that I knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime – I tear up thinking about it. I had my family there and a few of my friends surprised me (which I didn’t expect). There were a lot of UC San Diego Health people there too so my work family was definitely present. I loved feeling that our City and County of San Diego were in it together.
Is it important is it to get vaccinated?
Yam: I think it’s extremely important to get vaccinated. I believe in the science and research that went into the development of these vaccines to get where we are today. This didn’t happen in a few days or weeks or months – it was years of hard work by scientists who made it happen and then clinical trials were conducted after that. Testing has shown that it’s safe and effective. Getting vaccinated helps protect yourself from getting seriously ill and it also protects others around you as well.