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RESEDA, Calif. – This statuette was given to Doctor Noah Marco in 1988 by one of his HIV positive patients.

“I completed my residency in the 80s in San Francisco, at the height of the early part of the AIDS epidemic. So, at the time we knew this new bug had entered our community, we started realizing it was probably a virus, but we didn’t have testing and we didn’t have treatment, sound familiar,” said Dr. Marco.

Although not nearly as deadly, Dr. Marco says the experience has helped him approach what he says is something unprecedented, the current COVID-19 pandemic.


“We have never seen anything like this, and I’m worried, I am very concerned and worried about our residents and their families.” said Dr. Marco.

A physician for the last 30 years, Dr. Marco is the Chief Medical Officer for the Los Angeles Jewish Home, a non-profit that cares for 1,100 older adults that live inside the facility in various degrees of care, from independent living, to assisted living and skilled nursing. They care for another 3,000 people in the nearby community.

“Our residents that live with us their average age is 89 and a half, almost 90 years old. So this is the exact population that is the highest risk of, if they get this virus there is a good chance they will die,” says Dr. Marco.

More than 68 million Americans are age 60 or older, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. On March 4, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a call to health care providers to implement infection control procedures.


So, Dr. Marco is losing no time. They are having daily meetings with the leadership team, laying out plans. Discussing everything from procedures with vendors to testing.

They have cancelled resident interaction with the community and have increased safety guidelines and protocols. They also canceled their traditional Passover event which is a multi-generational gathering, and Mother’s Day might be next, that would take a toll on the residents because 90 percent of the residents here are women.

They have boosted communication with families, and visitors through voicemails, their website and fliers. For days now, visitors, staff, and vendors are being asked to go through a screening process before entering the facility. Detailing their recent medical history, including travel and symptoms. They’re also taking temperatures and ensuring everyone is screened.

I ask him: “Are we overreacting?”

Dr. Marco said, “that remains to been seen, I like to be the person that in a few years from now that, [someone says] Doctor Marco overreacted, the Jewish home didn’t need to be as aggressive and in front. I would love that, I would love to have not one more person die from this disease, but they will continue to die from this disease, and we are nowhere close to the peak in this country.”

So he has a few suggestions for all of us.

“If you’re sick stay at home, save a life. Wash your hands, save a life. Be prepared, save a life.”

And don’t blame others.

“The aids epidemic and this pandemic have that similar risk of people of this community blaming others, especially if they perceive them as other, [so] remain compassionate,” says Dr. Marco.

Compassionate for those that will be hardest hit by this pandemic, and those who health care professionals are desperately trying to save.

For the latest updates go to: coronavirus.gov