Dr. Dennis Treats His ED Colleagues

Posted: May 21, 2020

Although Craig Dennis, M.D., is officially retired, he well remembers working weekends in the Emergency Departments at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital and NorthBay Medical Center, when the cafés were closed and brown bags were about the only choice.

When COVID-19 changed everything, he decided he’d like to contribute a meal for his former colleagues at both hospitals.

“I wanted to do something at this time, when it’s got to be pretty terrifying to realize that you have to go to work, and you have an invisible enemy that you may encounter. And then after work you go home to your family and worry about passing it on to them,” he said. “It’s just such an unprecedented time. The ER staff are Craig Dennisthe warriors that we count so much on. We need to appreciate them, because they’re there 24/7/365 to help us.”

So Dr. Dennis pulled out his wallet and bought meals for every one — physicians, nursing, techs, registration clerks, allied health professionals and physicians — during a Sunday shift in April.

The delivery of boxed lunches from the Napa Deli was greatly appreciated by staff from every shift, according to Julie Bickham, R.N., who worked for many years with Dr. Dennis.

For that matter, most people who worked in the two emergency rooms over the last 36 years know Dr. Dennis. He was hired by previous CEO and President Gary Passama in 1982 to provide emergency services, when the hospital in Fairfield was known as Intercommunity Memorial Hospital.

In 1986, he started offering urgent care in Vacaville for NorthBay, and then shifted to VacaValley Hospital when it opened in 1987.

He retired at the end of 2018, with a great deal of respect for his colleagues.

“It’s a young person’s game,” he said, now 74. “As you get older, you don’t like the chaos, you like control, and the Emergency Department is clearly chaos. You have no control of how many patients will walk in, how many ambulances show up.”
He thought he’d miss it terribly, and in some ways he does, but retirement has been mostly a positive experience.
“It’s nice to get up and not worry about being somewhere,” he said.

That wasn’t the only donation to come in for local health care providers in recent weeks. Other highlights included:Donations of food and personal protective equipment (PPE) has been gratefully accepted by front line health care workers at NorthBay Healthcare.

  • The night shifts at the hospitals received Little Caesar’s Pizza purchased by the Green Valley Landowners Association as well as Panera lunches donated by Partnership Health Plan of California.
  • Green Valley Landowners Association also purchased 50 Napa Deli lunches for emergency department workers at NorthBay Medical Center. The group has been donating hundreds of meals to first responders and front line health workers for several weeks.
  • Pizza Guys, following up on delivering meals to NorthBay Medical Center, showed up at NorthBay VacaValley with their pizza kitchen to feed hundreds more. As of May 6, the organization delivered more than 12,000 pizzas to 28 hospitals in three states. VacaValley received 400 and NorthBay Medical Center received 450.
  • Magnolia Court of Vacaville provided 50 meals and small care packages to NorthBay VacaValley Hospital emergency department teams.
  • Sterling Institute of Relationships delivered 20 sandwiches, chips, drinks and desert to NorthBay Medical Center.
  • Ford Fairfield Lincoln/Mercedes Benz donated 60 La Cabana box lunches to NorthBay Medical Center nurses.
  • Starbucks Green Valley donated two 1-gallon coffee travelers, 10 boxes of instant coffee, cups and sugar.
  • Rev. Dr. David Isom, in partnership with Faith PAC, McDonald’s and Lisa Tolbert, provided breakfast sandwiches for NorthBay Medical Center Emergency Department — all delivered with the help of a cheerful group from the Fairfield Police Department. They followed with a second donation along with 300 homemade masks delivered by Fairfield Fire Department crews.
  • Wing Stop provided chicken wing meals for the Emergency Department at NorthBay Medical Center.
  • Solano Family First Responders donated 25 boxes of baked goods from Solano Baking Company in Dixon plus coffee from Niche Café plus large floral arrangements of treats to both hospitals.
  • The U.C. Davis Robotics Club donated 1,000 face shields.
  • Clif Bars Inc donated more than 1,800 Clif Bars to staff at both hospitals.
  • First Christian Church — Pastor Nate Stonestreet donated snacks and drinks to the NorthBay Cancer Center.
  • Asian Real Estate Association in America donated 300 homemade masks.

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