As a physician fighting a global pandemic, Joseph Fuentes, MD, understands the importance of positivity. Santa Clara County, home to 2 Kaiser Permanente medical centers, has been one of the most hard hit counties of the COVID-19 crisis in the Bay Area. Dr. Fuentes is one of many medical professionals working overtime to combat the outbreak.
“Although the world is hectic right now, this is a time that together we are stronger,” Dr. Fuentes said. “We have to keep calm and take care of our patients as best we can.”
Dr. Fuentes has been with Kaiser Permanente in the emergency department for over a decade. He provides medical treatment to patients requiring acute or life-saving care. When faced with an unparalleled situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic, an infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it’s important to remind people who are suffering to have hope.
“We offer hope and reassurance, and tell our patients to stay positive in these moments of uncertainty,” he said. “And of course, we show that we care.”
Hope for the Future
Although it may take up to a year to become publicly available, the prospect of a vaccine against coronavirus gives Dr. Fuentes reassurance. In March, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute gave the first-ever injection of an investigational vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, to 4 volunteers participating in a phase 1 federally sponsored clinical trial.
Dr. Fuentes informs his patients of this and keeps them closely informed of imperative information surrounding COVID-19 to help lessen the hysteria it has caused.
“I understand patients have anxiety and stress at this time,” he said. “They have a lot of questions regarding coronavirus. We try to educate and update them as soon as possible.”
As for the families of his patients, Dr. Fuentes provides feedback on the patients’ treatment and advises them to stay home, although he understands that can be difficult. Kaiser Permanente recently updated its visitor policy throughout all its facilities, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, to strictly limit visitors for the safety of all and to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Gratitude for the Medical Community
Dr. Fuentes has been working alongside dedicated nurses and physicians who are helping stop the spread of COVID-19 since the first case was reported in the United States in January. Gratitude was his message to all Kaiser Permanente employees.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues; all the doctors who are on the front lines; nurses, administrators, and tell them to keep on fighting this and stay healthy,” he said. “We will get through this.”
For those who can, Dr. Fuentes encourages you to stay inside, follow the CDC recommendations for prevention, including washing hands frequently, practice social distancing (at least 6 feet from others when possible), and stay positive and healthy.
“This is the time to be responsible and protect our families, especially the vulnerable population,” he said. “Take care of yourself, stay healthy, and we can fight this.”
Read about Dr. Fuentes’ Kaiser Permanente colleague, Mohini Chand, an Intensive Care Unit nurse also caring for COVID-19 patients. Join these health care professionals and many others participating in the public health safety campaign called #stay home.