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Kaiser infectious disease doctor reflects on 2 years of treating COVID patients

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

In Hawaiʻi, 300 National Guard troops who have been helping counties with contact tracing, COVID testing, and security will stand down this week as the pandemic moves into another phase. 

And March 11 marked the second anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic.

Dr. Tarquin Collis, chief of infectious disease at Kaiser Moanalua, remembers the first two COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the state.

One patient was connected with the Princess Cruise Line who survived with a mild case. 

The other was an elderly man, one of the sickest patients Collis says he’s treated in the past two years.

"I think about him a lot. You know, we worked hard for three weeks, and we lost him. And I know now... I know very well that if I had the tools and the knowledge that we have now, back then, there's an excellent chance he'd still be with us," he said.

"I never forget that we lost a lot of people before we understood what the virus was all about. And a lot of our assumptions as to how best to treat this infection proved wrong. And we needed hard science, we need really careful, careful science and prospective studies to teach us the things that we need to do right," Collis told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Kaiser Moanalua staff gathered Friday on the front lawn for a time of healing and remembrance.  

Collis says it's been an intense two years and commends the bravery of health care workers who run to help in the face of danger rather than away from it.  

This interview aired on The Conversation on March 11, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Lillian Tsang is the senior producer of The Conversation. She has been part of the talk show team since it first aired in 2011. Contact her at ltsang@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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