Frontline workers grateful for spotlight at Final Four concert

Miley Cyrus performs for a socially-distanced crowd at the NCAA men's Final Four (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

About 2,000 health care, public safety and hospitality workers were in a socially distanced crowd for Miley Cyrus’ musical tribute to frontline workers Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium as part of the Final Four.

The 30-minute concert, which occurred between the two semifinal games, featured spectators representing Indiana University Health, Hendricks Regional Health, the Indy Public Safety Foundation, Indianapolis International Airport and Eskenazi Health.

Some of those spectators were on the floor for the performance, standing in socially distanced pods. The remainder were in the stands, along with thousands of attendees for the games.

The performance followed a two-minute video highlighting the work of frontline workers at IU Health, the NCAA’s official COVID-19 testing and health partner for this year’s tournament.

IU Health received about 1,500 tickets for the tribute. The remaining tickets for the stadium bowl were dispensed by the Indiana Sports Corp. to its frontline partners.

During the show, Cyrus performed several classic-rock covers, including Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” and “American Woman” by The Guess Who. She also performed a few of her own hits, such as “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball.”

Dr. Warren Gavin, a hospitalist at IU Health, was among those invited to attend the concert. He said he appreciated the NCAA’s effort to celebrate health care workers who have been dealing with coronavirus on a daily basis for the past year.

Like most, Gavin hasn’t attended a large gathering since the pandemic began.

“I think that it’s a very earnest ‘thank you’ for what we’ve been doing,” he said before the concert. “It’ll be nice to see those that we work with in a little bit of a different venue. It’ll be a nice change of pace for people.”

Frontline workers were not required to be vaccinated to attend, although a spokeswoman for IU Health said “a large percentage” of the hospital network’s staff has been inoculated against the virus.

Another IU Health hospitalist, Dr. Crystal Azu, said she felt as though frontline workers have been talked about throughout the pandemic, but there hasn’t necessarily been much recognition of the lengths to which many in the profession went to keep the public and themselves safe.

For example, Azu bought her own personal protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic due to concerns over the hospital network’s ability to acquire enough gear through its own channels.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity from the NCAA for health care workers,” she said. “I think that there are definitely folks who have maybe not appreciated [us] throughout this time frame. Thank you for thinking about the sacrifices and the energy that health care workers have really been putting in kind of non-stop [to end] COVID.”

Azu also said she appreciated the thought that went into the concert arrangements—each socially distanced pod included no more than four people—and other safety considerations.

In addition to the concert, the frontline workers were provided an opportunity to watch the games on a massive, center-hung scoreboard on the north end of the stadium, while the game was taking place in the southern portion of the building.

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