Just 600 kilometers south of the Quebec-United States border, Reg Grant, BSc 95, former strength and conditioning coach for the New York Rangers, has found a different way to help people in his community.
As director of Human Performance at Holy Name Medical Center, Grant has a new team to work with: his fellow residents in Teaneck, New Jersey, one of the states hardest hit by COVID-19.
As a Concordia student, Grant worked as a therapist for the Stingers football team from 1992-94, moving into the roles of head strength and conditioning coach, and assistant athletic therapist for Stingers Athletics from 1998 to 2002.
Now six months into his new role, Grant sat down with us to tell us how he’s applying his 17-year experience with the New York Rangers to his current work.
How did your career shift after working with the New York Rangers?
My time with the Rangers was about getting a better understanding of the different factors that can help an athlete improve as a teammate, as a player and as a person.
I would identify factors that can stress an individual and worked to create a balance through adjustments in rehab, conditioning, reconditioning, physical training, nutrition, mental preparation and recovery.
The transition to Holy Name is taking that collective development of an individual and applying it to the health of everybody in the community. It’s creating support programs that help people, in a long-term way, live healthier lives.
I’ve applied the lessons learned in athletics to the community, to help improve people’s lifestyles and help prevent long-term disease and illness.
How did the world of sports prepare you to deal with COVID-19?
The common theme is teams. Everyone’s focus was on the pandemic and our CEO, Mike Maron, mobilized the entire hospital.
My role was to help the process of everything that went on from human performance to supporting logistics and the work of our facilities staff.
Everyone found a way to come together to improve our ability to handle the stresses of the pandemic. That team mentality and approach is very consistent with sports.
I hear you’re collaborating on remote care — Telehealth. What can you tell us about that?
The whole process has shifted to what we call the new normal. The programming that we can provide people with is not limited by walls nor structure.
In human performance, our goal is to improve people’s lives medically, performance-wise and as members of the community. We now have different vehicles that weren’t really thought of prior to COVID-19. Remote care is one of those.
We are figuring out how to evaluate and put into place supportive medical fitness, nutrition, sleep and psychology programming to help improve a patient’s health. For the most part, this can be done from a distance.
What impressed you about this whole experience in dealing with the pandemic?
It’s amazing to see an entire hospital pivot from diagnosing and treating a wide variety of illnesses to focusing almost entirely on COVID-19 — watching our medical staff go fearlessly into rooms with patients as they learned how to treat and prevent the spread of a virus, with no playbook. They did this on a daily basis, as a team.
I’m immensely grateful to be in an environment like this and to have shifted my career into a health care community-based service. I’m seeing things in the human spirit and condition as we adapt to something that nobody knew about when it started.
What inspires you in your work?
My inspiration and passion are in helping people. I’m really thankful to be part of a great team that can make a difference in people’s lives.
I feel incredible gratitude towards our CEO, to watch him bring this team of people together.
How did your time at Concordia influence you?
The athletics complex at the time was limited. We learned to do a lot with very little, with really good people, like Ron Rappel, BSc 85, and Scott Livingston, BSc 87, who I was fortunate enough to work with.
I learned how to treat athletes, and how to train and develop them. With limited resources, you found a way to think outside the box, to look for new areas and new avenues.
The biggest transfer I’d say is to look at a situation such as COVID-19, a new environment or a new job, and have the ability to see it from many different angles and challenge it in many different ways.
That experience sharpens your ability to problem solve, to look for different solutions and to approach a problem the right way.
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