Falcons cheerleaders helping on the front lines as healthcare workers

Olivia Freeman's uniform these days is very different than what she's used to.

She's traded in her Falcons pom poms for a medical gown, face shield and N95 mask when working with coronavirus patients as a registered nurse in a local cardiac intensive care unit.

"It was really just kind of scary not knowing when things were going to go back to normal and if there would ever be a normal like there used to be, you know?" she told FOX 5 Sports. "So that was kind of scary for me."

Support from coworkers, managers, the community and her Falcons cheerleader teammates -- five of whom work in the healthcare industry -- has gotten Freeman through a challenging stretch professionally and personally during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I love seeing the videos of people applauding -- I think they live around some of the hospitals, and they applaud the workers going in and out," Freeman said. "I think that’s just really, really awesome to have support from our community."

Celia Burger works in Piedmont Atlanta Hospital's Admit Recovery Unit as a cardiac registered nurse and is studying at Mercer University in its Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Master's Program. She usually works in a surgical unit but has floated more around the hospital due to COVID-19.

"During this time as a nurse, I have been so impressed by the work ethic and the attitude of everybody in the hospital," she said. "It’s kind of a time where this is our calling, this is our job. It’s a time to stand up and really help people."

She said she represents the Falcons with a pin for her badge, a surgical cap and now a Falcons facemask.

Falcons cheerleaders Celia Burger, left, and Olivia Freeman, right, work as registered nurses in Atlanta metro hospitals.

Both said their skills as cheerleaders translate to their everyday jobs as registered nurses.

"I feel like as a nurse, I want to be that cheerleader for my patient because I want them to get stronger and I want them to get better," Burger said. "You’re the one that is closest to them and can FaceTime the family, keep them updated and create that bond and relationship. And then also if you notice they’re declining it’s your job to be like, ‘Hey something's not right, my patient needs help. We need to progress care.’ So really creating that relationship with your patient and being their biggest advocate has been the biggest thing being a nurse, especially during this time."

Falcons cheerleaders Celia Burger, left, and Olivia Freeman, right, work as registered nurses in Atlanta metro hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both have been uplifted by the support of the Atlanta community and their loved ones during a difficult time at work.

"Even just a simple text and they’re like, 'Wow, thank you for what you’re doing,' or I've had friends send me masks or the little Venmo that’s like, 'enjoy a coffee on me today,' or something like that," Burger said. "It’s just like a little pick-me-up during the day when you’re having a hard time and you’re like, wow this is worth it. I’m helping somebody."

She also thinks being quarantined and isolated might help people appreciate life more once the pandemic subsides. 

"Just being grateful for the simple things in life, I think at the end of this, we’ll cherish those times a lot more," Burger said. "I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m excited for the times when we can get back together and spend time on the field."