Tampa General Hospital COVID ICU nurse manager named honorary Super Bowl captain

Suzie Dorner
Susie Dorner will be on the field Sunday night during the ceremonial coin toss.

Meet Susie Dorner.

Just a few months after receiving a promotion in October 2019 as nurse manager of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Tampa General Hospital, her world was changed forever.

COVID-19 hit Florida and spread across the country. Within 24 hours, her unit was converted into a COVID unit in preparation for ill patients.

Without missing a beat, Dorner sprang into action to support her team of nurses and patients. Dealing with the most critical cases, Dorner focused on human connection and emotional health in a time of social distance and PPE.

“We’ve all endured so much this past year,” she said. “It’s emotionally, mentally and physically draining. We’ve all seen so much. I’ve seen things I’ve never thought I’d see in my lifetime. In July, I walked into our 18-bed COVID ICU and every single person was intubated, which is something I’ve never seen in my career. It was younger patients, too, in their 20s and 30s. That was when I was like, ‘Oh, no. It’s here. This is real.’”

Throughout the year, Dorner focused on remaining calm and supporting her team.

“I had to be the person to say, ‘Hey guys, it’s going to be okay; we’re going to get through this together,’” she said.

This month, Susie Dorner’s life changed again, forever.

Dorner received a request to join a video call with Rob Higgins, the executive director of the Tampa Sports Commission and Chair of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee. True to her altruistic nature, Dorner immediately thought of her team and the upcoming Super Bowl LV in Tampa.

“I thought he was going to give me tickets to hand out to some of my team members to the Super Bowl, and that would have been great,” Dorner recalled.

Instead, Higgins and Derrick Brooks, a Tampa Bay linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer, asked her to once again serve the community, this time as an honorary Super Bowl captain of the National Football League.

In recognition of her selfless commitment to the community and service to others, Dorner will be on the field Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium during the ceremonial coin toss. Dorner will be joined by two other honorees, military veteran James Martin and educator Tremaine Davis to participate in the ceremony.

“I still can’t believe it’s real,” Dorner said. “I’m just one of 18 million health care workers in America. So, it’s just an honor to be chosen as their representative.”

Dorner credits her perseverance to the TGH leadership that has continuously supported her team through the pandemic.

“Our leadership at Tampa General has been absolutely phenomenal since Day 1 in responding to the pandemic,” Dorner said. “Whenever there’s been an issue, they help you resolve it quickly.”

Dorner, Martin and Davis will also receive another honor for their steadfast commitment to excellence. National Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman has been commissioned by the NFL to write a poem dedicated to their leadership. The poem will be recited during the pregame show Sunday on CBS.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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