The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and ESPN Australia New Zealand have combined to honour Monash Health clinician and “Healthcare Champion” Helen Richards, with a surprise Zoom call from tennis legend, Roger Federer.
The USTA honoured 14 “Healthcare Champions” from around the globe as part of their ‘Champion-to-Champion’ initiative, which recognizes health care professionals who have worked tirelessly to save lives in the fight against COVID-19.
Monash Health’s Helen Richards, Director of Clinical Operations for Hospital in the Home and Residential In-Reach, was identified as a worthy recipient of “Healthcare Champion”.
Richards and her fellow 19,000 strong Monash Health healthcare workers in Victoria have worked passionately against the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.
Monash Health is Victoria’s largest public health service, providing care to those across the entire lifespan at over 40 locations across south-eastern Melbourne, and Monash Health treated the first COVID-19 patient in the country.
Richards is a lifelong tennis fan, whose dream is to attend all four major Grand Slam tournaments.
She was the perfect candidate to receive this heartfelt message, given her work and her passion for the sport.
Initially disguised as a work-related Zoom call, Richards received a tremendous surprise, when future Hall of Famer and tennis superstar Roger Federer greeted her.
“What an amazing experience it was to get the chance to sit down and speak with a legend, like Roger Federer,” Richards said.
“I got the shock of my life when he was on the other end of the Zoom call. I’m really honoured to be selected and I see myself as accepting recognition of behalf of all the healthcare workers in the country who are doing tremendous work combatting COVID-19, as well as the entire Monash Health staff.”
Video of Helen’s Zoom discussion with Federer was also broadcast as part of ESPN’s coverage of the 2020 US Open Women’s Singles Final.
The 14 “Healthcare Champions” were honoured before the start of an individual match at the 2020 US Open, during the virtual coin toss, by a former US Open champion.
“As proud broadcast partner of the US Open, ESPN Australia New Zealand joins Champion to Champion in thanking healthcare workers like Helen from Monash Health who are on the frontline of COVID-19 care,” ESPN Australia New Zealand General Manager Haydn Arndt said.
Monash Health Chief Executive Andrew Stripp put forward Helen for the opportunity to represent Australian healthcare workers at the US Open.
“Like so many at Monash Health, Helen has worked tirelessly to support our community during this pandemic,” Stripp said.
“Monash Health are proud that our healthcare workers are recognised on the world stage as the champions they are – we thank Disney and ESPN for this opportunity for Helen on behalf of all of our staff.”