Letter from the Editor / Heroes of All Stripes

Dr. Sandeep Soni (left) and Robert Denison

Every year, we publish a peer-reviewed selection of Top Doctors in San Diego County, and this year’s list by Castle Connolly Medical recognizes 591 doctors in 256 specialties. We wanted to take this opportunity to salute the health care professionals who have been tirelessly working around the clock for months to treat patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Selecting which medical team to have on our cover this year was difficult, as thousands of physicians, nurses, and support staff across several health care systems in the county are united in fighting the pandemic. Writer Ian Anderson interviewed Dr. Sandeep Soni, an infectious disease specialist and medical director at Palomar Health, for our cover story, “Curing the Unknown,” a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes for a hospital to prepare for and operate during a pandemic. They truly need all hands on deck. In addition to physicians and nurses, infection control officers like Palomar’s Valerie Martinez direct an entire team of infection preventionists, and environmental services workers such as Maria Zaragoza-Magno spend every day keeping the hospital environment safe and sanitized.

Nurses are on the front line in treating this disease, and the demands and risks of the job have increased exponentially. In “Caring for the Caregivers,” writer Christina Orlovsky delves into how our largest hospitals support their nursing staff, both physically and mentally. We also learned that the last week of October is National Respiratory Care Week, so we’re highlighting respiratory therapy, a specialty field that is now more critical than ever.

The pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry, and the number of closings that food critic Troy Johnson discusses in our Happy Half Hour podcast increases every week. In “Kitchen Case Studies,” Troy speaks with three restaurateurs who are at different stages of weathering the economic fallout—one chef put his opening on hold, another is hanging on by offering takeout meal kits, and Whisknlade in La Jolla had to close up shop.

Whisknladle founder Arturo Kassel provided us with the recipe for chef Ryan Johnston’s popular mussels dish that was served at the restaurant for 12 years, which we’re featuring as one of our favorite fall recipes. We also got a seasonal dessert from James Beard nominee Claudette Zepeda, and a cocktail recipe from Charles + Dinorah that’s guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.

To commemorate Veterans Day, copy chief Dan Letchworth shares a story that was passed down to him from World War II. His grandfather, Robert Denison, was separated from his crew after their plane was shot down over Germany, and he evaded capture in enemy territory, alone, when he was just 19 years old. I’m honored that we can help preserve a story that needed to be told. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported that the number of living veterans from WWII is dwindling—there were 939,000 in 2015, but just 300,000 today. Dan’s story is one of the best things I’ve read all year, and I hope you find it as enjoyable as we did.

This year has certainly been one for reflection, and now more than ever we want to thank our heroes—everyone who has served, abroad or at home, to keep us safe, healthy, and nourished.

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