AdventHealth physician: One year after start of COVID ‘tragedy,’ sweeping changes in place for all patients

Fla., ORLANDO, Fla., March 4, 2021 – For Dr. Victor Herrera, COVID-19 has brought undeniable hardship and tragedy since the first patient arrived at AdventHealth one year ago this week.

But the pandemic also brought an unexpected outcome: swift changes and improvements in how all patients receive care such as the wider use of telemedicine and equipment that lets clinical teams remotely check a patient’s vitals to keep them out of the hospital.

“COVID-19 has been a tragedy that we will never forget,” Herrera, who is the associate chief medical officer at AdventHealth Orlando and an infectious disease specialist, said at today’s AdventHealth Morning Briefing. “But the paradox here is now we are better at treating patients in general.”

Herrera noted the number of COVID patients at AdventHealth hospitals across Central Florida has dropped to the lowest level since last year – to about 400 – a continuation of a slow, but steady decline since January.

He also touted the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which recently gained emergency use authorization from the FDA.

“This vaccine works,” Herrera said. “This vaccine prevents hospitalizations and prevents deaths.”

Dr. Steven R. Smith, AdventHealth Orlando’s chief scientific officer, called the single-dose vaccine a “gamechanger” and noted that AdventHealth was one of about 200 sites that helped test the new vaccine during the clinical trial stage.

AdventHealth is also participating in about a dozen other clinical trials related to COVID, Smith said.

Smith also reflected on this week marking one year since the first COVID patient at AdventHealth, a milestone that is being commemorated by blue lights on display at AdventHealth facilities and community landmarks such as Lake Eola Fountain nightly.

“We’re not to the end of the tunnel yet, but we’re getting close,” Smith said.

He encouraged people across the community to continue to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, remain socially distanced and get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

You can sign up for alerts to learn when more appointments are available at Vaccines are not currently available at any AdventHealth hospital, AdventHealth Centra Care or AdventHealth Medical Group office.

We encourage you to refer to the video by downloading it here on Vimeo or viewing it on the Life at AdventHealth Central Florida Facebook page to pull direct quotes from Smith and Herrera.