By: Joanna Baniszewski, Contributing Writer—
There was a male patient dying of COVID who was married for fifty-four years. His wife wanted to see her husband for the last time. The doctor did everything possible to get her to see her husband for the last time and told her to arrive at the hospital the next day at 9am.
However, the doctor called the wife the next day as she was getting her hair ready for her husband “just as he liked it” but he already passed away.
On Thursday, February 17, 2022, the Office of Student Organizations organized a one-hour meeting online Zoom Meeting with Dr. James N. Pruden, the Chief of the Saint Joseph’s Hospital Emergency Department.
Dr. James N. Pruden discussed the symptoms of COVID, his personal experience with it, why it’s important to get vaccinated, how COVID affected minorities, and answered questions from PCCC Students including myself.
Dr. Pruden discussed all the serious symptoms of COVID which are the following: hair loss, loss of smell, loss of balance, numbness, stroke, heart failure and disease, heart attacks, fatigue, shortness of breath, high fever, diarrhea, and even death.
Dr. Pruden contracted COVID as a physician while working in the Emergency Room at Saint Joseph’s, Hospital located in Paterson, New Jersey. He was very ill but pulled through. He still to this day has side effects from COVID that persist which are diminished sense of smell, taste, loss of balance once in a while and numbness. Even when it rained once and his socks were wet he could not feel his feet being wet.
Millions of patients died in the hospitals without seeing their loved ones. During the height of the pandemic around to four to six patients died everyday at Saint Joseph’s Emergency Hospital as opposed to two to five every week.
As a part-time library employee my supervisor lost her husband to COVID at the height of the pandemic without seeing him for the last time.
Dr. Pruden explained that doctors wished not to get their children or spouses ill so they would return home and immediately take off their clothes and take a shower.
Dr. Pruden said that COVID is nothing to joke at it has killed millions of people in the US, but that should not happen today as effective, safe, and free vaccines are available.
Dr. Pruden prefers the MRNA Vaccines from the manufacturers of Pfizer and Moderna as opposed to Johnson & Johnson standard vaccine as they utilize new technologies which are more effective against COVID as opposed to a regular vaccine from Johnson &Johnson. Johnson & Johnson uses an older technology of killing the virus and putting it in your body similar to annual flu vaccines. Dr. Pruden advised anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson to receive a booster from Pfizer or Moderna. Johnson & Johnson vaccines are similar to Measles and Polio vaccines which we receive when we are babies as they include the dead virus or bacteria.
A vaccine’s primary function is to prevent “death” in people who come into contact with COVID . Dr. Pruden explained that with the Delta variant vaccines prevent the transmission of the virus by 60% and help prevent major symptoms. This does not mean that one will not get sick, but the symptoms will be mild, he or she will not need to go to the Emergency Room and will not die.
Most African Americans and other minority groups do not trust the healthcare system. This goes back to the Tuskegee Experiment where US African Americans were infected with disease and were not provided with penicillin to treat them. Most African Americans were skeptical of vaccines which made them hesitant to receive them.
Dr. Pruden’s own barber said to him that “African-Americans can’t get COVID” which was untrue. Dr. Pruden who survived COVID was able to keep his barber in business as he tips him well and through his tipping convinced him to get vaccinated.
Dr. Pruden said that the US is slowly approaching a new normal. A new normal will still require social distancing, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing. Dr. Pruden said that new mutations will still circulate as animals, for example, deer can carry COVID. Dr, Pruden said that annual COVID vaccines will still be necessary to combat the spread of COVID just like the flu
At the end, Dr. Pruden took questions. My question was whether he agreed with Gov. Murphy’s decision to not mandate wearing masks in school? He said that was a political question and the decision was based most likely on politics. Dr. Pruden said that wearing masks is an effective method to reduce the spread of COVID in places where groups of people are gathered, for example, places of worship, malls, nursing facilities, hospitals, and other places.