Op-Ed

Hardship brings out goodwill, selfless actions

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Life has a way of reminding us of what really matters. Unfortunately, it is usually a lack of something or an unforeseen event that drives home the point.

COVID-19 just did this. In the recent history of humankind, it has become a household name all over the world within the shortest time period. It has exposed all nations and all communities, and has impacted every sector and everyone. In the beginning period of the pandemic, it created extreme anxiety and nervousness within the health care environment, and the losses it created are immeasurable.

Dr. Sunil Patel

Dr. Sunil Patel 

But it is also the same factor that has brought out the best in people. We have witnessed this every day in our community of Tracy over the last several months. We salute health care workers, in particular nurses who prioritize their patients over their personal lives.

Our community hospital, Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, set up an urgent task force that led to the involvement of important stakeholders including nursing homes, community physicians and the city of Tracy. The response I witnessed to this crisis was unprecedented during my career as a physician over the last 35 years; thank you, Mr. Dave Thompson (CEO at STCH), Dr. Phil Yu (chief medical executive) and Dr. Shital Hubli (chief of staff) for your leadership responsible for surge capacity planning for this pandemic. Also, I’d like to recognize Dr. Uday Nadgir (director of the hospitalist program) and Dr. Janice Crawford (director of emergency room) for their quick adaptation during a rapidly changing crisis.

I feel very proud of physicians who stepped up as warriors and placed their solidarity with our community to serve it during these testing times. All my colleagues would agree that Dr. Praveena Sarma (infectious diseases) and Dr. Chris Fossaceca (anesthesiology) are doing a heroic job in serving COVID-19 patients in our hospital. Dr. Sarma has personally seen every single COVID-19 patient in the hospital, and Dr. Fossaceca volunteered to manage the ICU with his colleagues. Their selfless commitment and willingness to serve this patient population while taking risks with their personal health is monumental. As a physician in the community, I bow to their dedication.

So much has been done by essential workers and first line responders, and their status in our society has been elevated forever. Of course, there is no way to reverse the pain, suffering and loss of loved ones, but all the goodwill and kindness expressed by Tracy residents gives us hope and confidence that our community will come out stronger and better prepared from this adversity. As a member of our community, I want to express my gratitude to everyone for their contributions and pray that everyone stays healthy and safe.

Dr. Sunil Patel is a longtime Tracy physician specializing in geriatrics and internal medicine.

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