DETROIT – Michigan State coaches Tom Izzo and Mel Tucker paid a virtual visit to a doctor who ended up on a ventilator after treating patients with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr. Scott Kaatz survived his battle with the coronavirus, but his father did not.
Kaatz cared for some of the first COVID-19 patients at Henry Ford Hospital while he was fighting the virus.
His father, Dick Kaatz, a longtime funeral director in Michigan’s Thumb, was also hospitalized with the coronavirus. He died May 5.
Dr. Kaatz and his father shared a love for Michigan State, and when the university heard about his recovery and the death of his father, they planned a surprise.
“Are you kidding me? Oh my goodness, coaches, hello," Kaatz said. “I wish dad was here to see this. He would really get a kick out of this.”
Izzo and Tucker told Kaatz he’s an inspiration for his work on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.
“I just want to say, you know, thank you for fighting through it and showing us that you can survive, and I do want to say my condolences for your dad,” Izzo said over a Zoom call.
“The way you fought through, it’s just incredible, and I’m just so happy to be on this call with you today, and you’ve got a great Spartan family right here," Tucker said.
Both coaches said they plan to share Kaatz’s story with their players.
“There’s bigger things to overcome than maybe a football or basketball game, and you’re living proof of it,” Izzo said.
Kaatz urged them to encourage others to take the risk seriously.
“I think, whatever we can do as Spartan nation to get to work out to still disperse masks and stuff like that -- because this is pretty awful,” Kaatz said. “I’ve seen that as a physician. I’ve seen that as a patient, and I’ve seen that as a family member.”
“We’re so sorry for your father, but we’re proud of you because you’re going to help other people that maybe would have given up fight through it, and that’s bigger than any victory we can have, I’ll tell you that,” Izzo said.