EVERETT — When the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games were held in Seattle last week, on the sidelines was Everett sports medicine Dr. Jessie Fudge.
As the chief medical officer for the games, Fudge was tasked with coordinating the medical care needed for the 300 scheduled events. She also needed to make sure there was the staff necessary for roughly 1,000 preventative care shifts at the games.
Fudge was one of about 450 doctors and nurses from Kaiser Permanente who volunteered, among others.
While the games lasted only six days, Fudge began recruiting, organizing and training the volunteer staff more than a year ago.
Athletes with intellectual disabilities ages 8-80 competed in 14 sports.
During competition, doctors and nurses were on the sidelines aiding with injuries — new and old.
And in between events, providers were screening participants for the Healthy Athletes program.
Fudge said a big barrier for many with intellectual disabilities is navigating the health care system.
“It can be difficult for this population to find care,” Fudge said. “Or asking for that care if it is needed.”
Fudge shared a story about an athlete who always finished second, never first. When she asked about it, she learned the runner wasn’t able to identify the finish line.
“They might not recognize they can’t see as well as their classmate,” Fudge said.
The Healthy Athletes program encourages participants to find care, Fudge said.
“I’m also using this experience to make sure my practice meets the needs of these individuals,” Fudge said.
Fudge’s volunteering is not limited to the Special Olympics. She also works with Seattle’s Roosevelt High School football players. And Fudge has worked with the Nick of Time Foundation screening hearts and during the winter aids the Steven Pass Ski Patrol.
Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizzgior.