One The result of uncontrollable Election Day is the death of COVID-19 of a respected and respected emergency room doctor, leaving two young children behind.
Dr. Juan Fitz of Lubbock, Texas, fell ill in mid-October. He’s been ventilated, fighting for his life, as President Trump goes from rally to rally repeating a disdainful and false accusation that doctors inflated the death toll. of pandemic to “make more money”. That unfounded claim has brought cheers from the majority of the unmasked supporters who are following his example of carelessness in ignoring simple precautions that could have saved. tens of thousands of lives and still can save tens of thousands of others.
Direct voting was underway across the country when Fitz, 67, died at the Claremont Medical Center, the hospital where he had saved so many lives. He was one of eight people who lost their lives from the virus in Lubbock County, along with 1,122 others nationwide on Election Day. He also left behind a wife, an elder daughter and a host of fellow emergency paramedics, who took him seriously.
“My emergency medicine expertise just lost a leader, Dr. Juan Fitz, to COVID,” tweeted Dr. Esther Choo of Oregon. “He is an outstanding physician and a leader in the field, operating in the Texas College of Emergency Physicians and the American College of Emergency Physicians.”
She continued, “My colleagues and I will come to help you every day until this is over, no matter what. As hospitals and ICUs exceed capacity, we endure PPE shortages and continuous testing, and face heartbreaking losses like this one. “
Back in 2008, the American College of Emergency Physicians named Fitz as “the hero of emergency medicine”. He has been there for 34 years this June, when the organization ran an interview with him about fighting on the frontlines against COVID-19. He said that he was drawing about his time in the army.
“My previous military background made me prepare each patient as if I were on patrol, taking as many precautions as possible,” he said.
“I found myself waking up every night around 3am worried that I had been infected and brought it home with my family. “
– Dr. Juan Fitz
His biggest worry is his loved ones.
“I have two children at home, 5 years old and 10 months old. I found myself waking up every night around 3am worried that I had been infected and brought it home with my family. Other family members also had additional stress. I am fortunate because I have a strong belief.
He was asked what is particularly concerning about the pandemic.
“It’s the uncertainty of the symptoms,” he said. “A lot of patients have a lot of different symptoms like stroke or heart problems and are testing positive for the virus. There is no rhyme or reason. There are some people who look as though they have symptoms of COVID-19 but have a negative result while others we don’t think have the virus but are positive. It is difficult without sufficient equipment or testing. I am disappointed with those who do not understand this pandemic.
He was also asked about the effect on his personal life.
“It was difficult. My partner was a lot younger than me and didn’t have the medical qualifications so the stress grew. She always checks with ‘Dr. Google ‘and read how I was about to bring the virus home. I changed the way I practiced, not because of her worries but because of me. I definitely didn’t want to bring it home so I had to make adjustments and start exfoliating and changing clothes before greeting the baby. I can’t talk about what happened in [Emergency Department] because they don’t understand. Instead, I spoke with my fellow doctors and veterans. ”
He added, “I find my son sad because he can’t go out or go to the park. But this brought me closer to my son and daughter. I spend as much time with them as I can. ”
The next question is what drives him to keep fighting.
“We are emergency medicine. We are pioneers, pioneers. Like I said to my students and residents, ‘I am Parachute, I am a cavalry, I delve into that field and before the challenge of circumstances, find ways to improve and organize things.’ I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and I love being an emergency doctor ”.
He has a message for the patients.
“We are here to take care of you! We are trained in the unknown, we are trained in chaos and how to control it. Emergency medicine is a controlled chaos. We are Sherlock Holmes of the medical profession, open to surprises. We accept the sickest. We are here for you 24/7/365. “
Then comes the date in October when Fitz started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. He stayed home and went into the emergency room, this time a patient. He drove there himself because if his wife drove him, the kids would have to.
“In my mind – and I’m sure he too – he will make it.“
– Christy Martinez-Garcia
A friend, Christy Martinez-Garcia, told The Daily Beast: “He doesn’t want to startle his child. “When he got there, he sent me a message. He said, ‘Hey, I have a coronavirus. Please pray for me. ”
Martinez-Garcia is the publisher of The Latino Lubbock Magazine. Fitz wrote a column for it called “The Doctor Is In”, and she suggested that when he was discharged from the hospital, he would be able to report directly on COVID-19 infection.
“In my mind – and I’m sure he too – he’ll get over it,” said Martinez-Garcia. “But then he didn’t.”
He quickly went from bad to worse even worse. Many of the people who worked with him spread rumors, including Eddie Kirkpatrick, a retired firefighter who spent five years as emergency technician at Claremont Hospital, who left before COVID-19.
“I think that makes people off guard,” Kirkpatrick said. “You wouldn’t think he would get it, and when he did, it just grabbed him with both hands.”
Fitz was soon after mechanical ventilation in the ICU. An ER nurse texted Kirkpatrick on Tuesday to say Fitz was dead. Kirkpatrick then spoke about Fitz as everything a doctor should be.
Fitz was constantly patient with medical students and citizens. He will remain an image of composure in the most urgent cases even as his mind flashes everything to do. Kirkpatrick compared Fitz to a floating duck.
“The foot will be at 100 miles per hour underwater,” Kirkpatrick said. “But he will never let you see it.”
What Fitz showed and felt was compassion and determination to do whatever he could. He’s someone with COVID-19 who would be glad it was him instead of anyone else.
“He’s a super nice guy trying to help people out and he’s achieved it,” Kirkpatrick said. “I am telling you, he would rather be him. That’s the kind of person he is, he cares about people. Doctors like him don’t show up very often. “
Martinez-Garcia is heartbroken, feeling a sense of loss for himself, his family and the community, which he calls My people, My people.
“He’s actually shown to be a doctor,” she said. “He died taking care of others. The tricky thing is that he’s gone. He just left “.
She remembered the moment at the party where Fitz had brought her children.
“I remember he kissed them,” she said. “He is a superhero to his children. And you know, he’s a superhero to me. “
Fitz is also very happy to be with you. Whether with children, wife or friends or first aid teammates, he always brings joy.
“His laughter will be missed,” said Martinez-Garcia. “Everything about Dr. Fitz will be missed. He always has a way to make things better ”.
She talks about all of the front-line health care workers and the responsibility that the rest of us have to support them.
“They’re not thinking about themselves, they’re thinking about taking care of their patients,” she said. “We have to help by covering up and taking all the necessary precautions.”
One preventive measure to be taken in Lubbock is to make the parade of upcoming veterans virtual. The theme will be unity. There will be specific recognition for Fitz.
“He served on the battlefield and later in the hospital,” she said.
She hopes his example will go along with that of all our martyrs to teach a much needed lesson.
“We need to stand as one,” she said.
But lately, there are so many people just on their side, they don’t take even simple measures to save other people’s lives even when they talk passionately about Americans. And President Trump encouraged them, saying that all discussions about COVID-19 are just a Democrat conspiracy.
In fact, Trump’s lowering of the dangers is part of his political strategy to divert voters’ attention away from the more than 230,000 deaths and to keep them focused on the economy.
Some discouraging Americans did it on Election Day even if Fitz became one of the last to die.
“He’s gone,” said Martinez. “This could have been prevented. I think that’s what makes me angry. We can still have him. “
And one thing is certain about the future, whatever the final vote count, is that Fitz’s kids now will grow up without him.
“It’s so sad they won’t be able to see him,” she said.