In an effort to put a name and a face to some of those frontline heroes, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce would like to highlight several of the physicians, nurses, and support staff who have committed their lives to provide compassionate care for those suffering from COVID-19 and who go above and beyond the call of duty every day to serve our community.
Dr. Richard Smith - Infectious Disease (ID)
Dr. Richard Smith is an infectious disease expert who has been leading Tri-City Medical Center’s physician advisory council. In this role, Dr. Smith monitors the ever-changing scientific literature regarding COVID-19 and brings forward best practice treatments to help Tri-City physicians provide the highest quality care for all COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Smith began working at Tri-City Medical Center with a specialty in infectious disease medicine nearly 15 years ago after completing his fellowship from the University of California, San Diego. For the past three months Dr. Smith has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response, stating, “This is what we train for, but I never thought we would face a pandemic, especially a novel virus.”
Describing the past several months as “scary, interesting and stressful,” Dr. Smith notes that the virus has brought on a new way of thinking, explaining that he must do whatever works, sometimes involving multiple treatments approaches at the same time. “Since this is a new virus that we have never seen before there is never 100% certainty,” he added.
Dr. Smith, along with Tri-City’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gene Ma, formed a COVID-19 Committee that meets regularly to discuss relevant info, to study and share papers and publications, and to stay up-to-date on all new regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Smith urges the community to “keep up our vigilant behavior because this is not over. We must continue to take care of each other.”
Dr. Smith is still seeing new COVID-19 patients daily.
Lauren Griffin, RN - Emergency Department (ED)
Lauren Griffin studied nursing at San Diego State University and started working at Tri-City Medical Center in 2015 as a registered nurse. Lauren consistently volunteers to care for COVID-19 patients in the Emergency Department’s isolation unit, wearing full PPE for many hours at a time, and provides outstanding care to some of the sickest patients in our community. Lauren is recognized for her dedication to her patients, coworkers, and the community alike.
Mariana Garcia De Maldonado & Vilma Polanco Diaz - Environmental Services (EVS)
Mariana works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Vilma Polanco Diaz works in Telemetry at Tri-City Medical Center, areas where the majority of the contact isolation patients—including COVID-19 positive patients—receive care. As environmental services workers, both are responsible for cleanliness within the medical center. According to their manager, Hope Chaney, Mariana and Vilma provide an incredible level of service to keep the sickest patients’ rooms exceptionally clean every day. They care for the patients’ surroundings like all patients are their family members.
Mariana, who has worked for Tri-City for 14 years, says of her role in the pandemic response, “My job is very important to me. I work to provide a clean and safe environment not only for the patients but for staff as well.”
Vilma’s work ethic and smile comfort patients and staff at the medical center. Working at Tri-City for over a year and a half, Vilma brings a smile to her patients’ faces. “Patients are happy to see me come into their rooms to clean,” according to Vilma. “The work I do is very important to me and I’m so happy to be working here serving patients.”
For more information about Tri-City Medical Center’s COVID-19 response efforts, visit tricitymed.org/covid19