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Heroes in the Community: Mari-Lynn Zamparelli from Novant Health

By Sam Perley

Mari-Lynn Zamparelli has been a Swarm 365 member for only one season so far, but the enthusiasm in her voice when she speaks about the team makes you feel like she’s been following the team for decades on end. It took only one visit for her to fall in love with the Hornets and she’s never looked back. 

“My 12-year-old daughter, Samantha, actually had a Girl Scouts event last year and we got tickets to a game,” she recalled. “Her troop went out onto the court during halftime and met the players in the tunnel. My husband, myself and my oldest daughter had a blast.”

Eventually, Mari-Lynn, her husband Frank and his cousin and wife went in on four season tickets together for the 2019-20 season before the latter two backed out at the last minute. Mari-Lynn and Frank stayed on and safe to say, it’s something they haven’t regretted.  

“We’ve just had amazing times at the games. Whether they win or lose, I don’t care. I just enjoy being at the game, feeling that excitement, watching it and just being a part of that environment. My daughter absolutely loves Devonte’ Graham. For me, some of my favorite moments were when we’re in overtime, it’s a tie game and thinking, ‘Is this going to be the basket that ends up winning the game?’ I love that heart-pounding feeling. 

Perhaps the only downside this season has been Zamparelli’s seven-days-on-seven-days-off work schedule that forced her to miss a handful of games here and there. Now in her eighth year with Novant Health, Zamparelli works as a Medication Listing Assistant, a job that requires meticulous attention to detail and organizational skills.  

“I work in the emergency room and my job is to go into the patients’ room who are getting admitted to the hospital and go over their whole medication lists,” she explained. “So, while they’re in the hospital, we can make sure they get the medications that they need from home. We also check to make sure anything that they’re taking doesn’t interfere with anything we’re giving them, so we don’t harm them.”

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has made work life a bit trickier for Zamparelli, forcing her to utilize some different resources in order to determine which medications an admitted patient has been taking. 

“If a patient comes in and they are being tested for COVID-19 or have been confirmed positive, we haven’t been able to go into the room because we’re trying to limit the amount of people being exposed,” she said. “We will call family members, their nurses. We become like private investigators to get the information. Sometimes, we can call into the patient’s room if they’re alert, oriented and able to speak with us.”

While the past two months have been undoubtedly challenging for everybody working in healthcare, Zamparelli says the outpouring of appreciation and recognition hasn’t gone unnoticed. 

“I feel like since the pandemic started, people are realizing how much more work people in healthcare are doing,” she said. “We’re not doing anything special working in healthcare. We do what we do every day because we love doing what we do, but people are now taking notice and appreciating it more with what’s been going on. I understand that my job has always been important, but I don’t think I’m doing anything extraordinary. I do my job the same way I’ve always done it with the same care and compassion for our patients that I’ve always had.” 

To many, live sports can’t return soon enough and will eventually do so when things are safe for everyone involved. And the outlet of being Swarm 365 members is something the Zamparellis are surely looking forward to having back in their lives when the time indeed comes. 

“We’ve definitely enjoyed being able to do some of the extra-fun stuff like meeting the players, going on the court to shoot hoops, getting autographs,” she added. “There’s so much more to just the game – it’s the whole experience of being a Swarm 365 member and getting extra perks. My daughter would have never been able to get a signed basketball or a signed picture of the whole team. It’s been amazing. She can’t wait for the games to start again.”

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