Virginia’s time in the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was cut short after a first-round loss to No. 13 Furman University. But before this year’s tournament began, we spoke with Janeth Bibb, former Radiologic Technologist in the Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging at UVA Health, about her unique role in supporting UVA’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
A 50-Year Career in Radiology
Bibb retired in 2017 after nearly 50 years at UVA Health as a radiologic technologist, working mainly with outpatients in the West Complex, Fontaine and the McCue Center.
As a radiologic technologist, she was responsible for using x-ray machines to take x-rays of patients. She maneuvered the x-ray equipment, positioned patients’ body to gain access to the area needing imaging, and took the images that radiologists later interpreted and used to make a diagnosis.
Outside of her long career in radiology and her passion for patient care, one of Bibbs’s biggest loves is Virginia sports. When the John Paul Jones Arena, the home of UVA basketball, opened in Charlottesville, her experience working extensively with orthopedic patients gave her a unique opportunity to bring her passion for UVA sports and radiology together.
Providing Courtside Care
The UVA athletics department wanted to have a portable x-ray machine in the John Paul Jones Arena when it opened, to quickly image injured athletes during a game, just like they do at Scott Stadium for home football games.
Four UVA Health radiologic technologists were chosen to split imaging duties for all home men’s and women’s basketball home games. Bibb was one of the first four technologists chosen to provide this courtside care.
From 2001 until her retirement in 2017, either Bibb or one of her colleagues was in attendance at every UVA basketball home game. If an injury occurred on court before, during or after a game, Bibb or one of her colleagues would rush to the arena’s training rooms and use a portable x-ray machine to take x-rays of the player.
“We had reserved seats near the band, on the end of a row,” Bibb says. “The teams’ trainers could catch our eyes or signal us if they needed us, although a lot of times we could tell when they took a player into the hall that they would need us to come meet them.” Back in the training space, the portable x-ray machine is connected to PACS, UVA Health’s image management system. So once the x-rays were taken, they were immediately sent to a radiologist on call who could read them and send the results back to the team physicians right away.
Bibb’s relationship with the basketball players was a lot like her relationship with any patient. “We knew who they were, of course,” she says, “But we kept it like a typical healthcare worker-patient relationship. They were all very nice and accommodating.”
Techs also got to know the team physicians and learned when they were likely to want x-rays of their players. “It became clear, working with them, when they thought a need was immediate,” Bibb says, “Or when it could wait until clinic. A lot of times, the physician would request an x-ray during a weekend game because otherwise the player would have to wait until Monday to be imaged. We could do it in a much more timely fashion.”
As part of their responsibilities, techs arrived at the arena about 45 minutes before each game, to be on-hand if a player was injured while warming up. They also stayed late after the games, until they got an all clear signal from the trainers. “That helped us miss all the traffic!” Bibb says.
As the most senior technologist, Bibb had the extra responsibility of scheduling techs for each games. She made sure to carefully rotate people through the biggest games of each year—against Virginia Tech, or Duke—so that everyone got a chance to work those games.
Though it was a lot of work, Bibb has no regrets about her time working with the Cavalier basketball teams. “I saw a lot of exciting games over the years,” she says. “I loved my professional life and my love of sports coming together. It’s the thing I miss most in retirement.”