A Tribute to Dr. Fauci : AJN The American Journal of Nursing

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Guest Editorial

A Tribute to Dr. Fauci

Grady, Christine PhD, MSN

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AJN, American Journal of Nursing: December 2022 - Volume 122 - Issue 12 - p 7
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000904020.48958.bd
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Abstract

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Figure:
Christine Grady

Dr. Anthony Fauci is, as former President Obama once said, “a once-in-a-century public health leader.” A physician–investigator and public servant at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for almost six decades and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for 38 years, Tony has dedicated his life to improving the lives of patients with a host of devastating infectious and immunologic diseases, including HIV, Ebola, Zika, the vasculitis syndromes, influenza, and COVID-19. During his time at the NIH, Tony advised seven U.S. presidents while running a productive research laboratory and a large, dynamic institute. Through the years, he continued to see, listen to, and care for patients.

Tony is also my husband. We were married in 1985, and I have had the privilege of spending more than half my life with him. When we first met, I was a clinical nurse specialist in immunology and infectious diseases at the NIH. Observing him on rounds, it was immediately obvious to me that he cared deeply for patients. He had high expectations of the nurses, fellows, and others on the health care team and insisted on standards of excellent, thorough, and ethical care. In addition to their clinical status, Tony cared about patients' functional ability and quality of life. I can recall many years ago, Tony challenging a clinical fellow who'd reported that his patient with severe hypereosinophilia was now “doing fine.” Tony responded that until the patient could comfortably walk to at least the end of the hall, he was not really “doing fine.”

Since the 1980s, Tony has worked tirelessly researching ways to treat, prevent, and mitigate HIV. He cared for HIV-infected patients himself, while he and his lab pursued innovative and transformative research. Although people with HIV and their communities were critical of the government's initial response and of Tony as the face of that response, he was undeterred; listened to their critiques; learned from their experiences; and worked hard to improve approaches to clinical trials, drug development, and access to lifesaving medications. Aware of the inequitable global access to HIV treatment and prevention, Tony drew people, strategies, and political will together to help establish PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He remains extremely proud of these efforts, which have saved millions of lives here and abroad.

When Ebola exploded in West Africa in 2014, as a U.S. government spokesperson Tony worked closely with America's leaders to provide straightforward information to the public and calm their fears. Under his leadership, NIAID established multiple intervention trials in collaboration with clinics in Liberia to stem the epidemic. A special biocontainment unit at NIH was set up for infected health care providers from West Africa. Deb Gutierrez, the unit's nurse manager, recalled that Tony was there to greet patients when they arrived in the middle of the night. He worked side by side with the nurses and other providers, while emphasizing nurses' safety as a priority. She told me, “His calm demeanor and the respect he showed to all nursing staff went a long way to boosting their confidence.”

Over the past three years, Tony's visibility skyrocketed as he engaged in fighting the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Spending an unimaginable number of hours collaborating with scientists and public health officials in trailblazing research on vaccines and treatments, advising two presidents, and regularly communicating with the public, Tony's scientific knowledge, willingness to tell it like it is, resilience, Brooklyn tenacity, and leadership have been remarkable. Not in the caregiving role this time, he nonetheless recognized the invaluable role of nurses and other clinicians in providing patient care. At the 2021 virtual meeting of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, he referred to ICU nurses as “truly the heroes and heroines of this pandemic.”

Tony has always been a champion of nurses. He has also been recognized by nurses for his efforts, from the American Academy of Nursing selecting him as a 2020 Honorary Fellow to AJN now honoring him in this issue. As a nurse myself, I applaud Tony's commitment to patient care, public health, and clinical research, and to the nurses and other professionals who make it all possible.

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