Pandemic Peace of Mind: The Man Behind the Medicine and in Front of the CamerasJul 03, 2022 09:03AM ● By Jennifer Fairfield-Williams
A little more than two years ago, the world as we knew it changed forever. Words and expressions like state of emergency, coronavirus, Covid-19, quarantine, social distancing, and flattening the curve became part of everyone’s vocabulary. People across the globe and here in Southwest Florida were desperate for information, and healthcare providers were scrambling to make sense of it all while working what seemed like endless hours to not only treat their patients but also to help them find some peace of mind.
As the safer-at-home orders went into effect, Millennium Physician Group’s chief medical officer and internal medicine physician Alejandro Perez-Trepichio, M.D., was pivotal in Millennium’s decision to keep its offices open, being there when patients needed the care and expertise of their doctors most.
From those earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Naples-based physician became an especially trusted voice of reason. His extensive clinical knowledge combined with his innate ability to simplify sometimes-complicated medical facts and statistics made him the go-to source of trusted information about Covid-19.
“It was incredible how fast and unrelenting the need for reliable information was evolving on a daily basis,” says Dr. Perez-Trepichio. “The world was put to a sizable challenge to come together and think quickly about the next steps in managing this emerging and ever-changing pandemic. However, it was equally impressive to see how the entire scientific community became focused on bringing to bear the best resources available, along with looking at issues like reliable, available testing for early detection of infection and understanding the best mitigation measures, while developing vaccines and looking for effective treatments at the same time.”
With what we knew about the new coronavirus and Covid-19 changing daily, even hourly, Dr. Perez-Trepichio was repeatedly called upon by local and national media to field questions about the constantly-changing status of the virus and its implications. A full-time practicing physician, Dr. Perez-Trepichio continued to see his patients while graciously honoring interview requests from TV, radio, print, social media, and digital outlets. He also spearheaded Millennium's pandemic initiatives, like its proprietary telehealth service, pandemic protocols, and testing and vaccination clinics.
“It was challenging to maintain the pace between continuing to see my patients while being involved with many others in the support of our healthcare teams and the community at large,” admits Dr. Perez-Trepichio.
His wife, Patty, agrees., “Facing a fast-moving healthcare crisis at the height of the pandemic, Alex never hesitated to lead by serving others despite many challenges,” she says. “He worked around the clock for months with unwavering commitment to creatively maintain patient care and secure vaccines for patients and the entire healthcare team.”
Practicing in Southwest Florida for 19 years, Dr. Perez-Trepichio joined Millennium in 2009, and became the group’s chief medical officer in 2018. Born in Argentina, where he attended medical school, Dr. Perez-Trepichio started his career as a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. That’s where he also met his wife of 34 years and started his family. The experience he gained as a researcher prepared him to pour through the latest and evolving scientific data on the pandemic. Today, he returns to Argentina as frequently as possible to reconnect with his immediate and extended family.
Always an influential presence and confident leader, during the pandemic he led by example to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. On evenings and weekends, Dr. Perez-Trepichio worked with colleagues, teams of Millennium physicians, nurses, and staff to keep desperately -needed Covid-19 vaccination clinics operating, always focusing on the most vulnerable patients—–those over 64 and with chronic conditions. Yet, he felt like he could still do more.
In his role as a member and then-incoming president of the Collier County Medical Society (CCMS), Dr. Perez-Trepichio helped further an initiative to raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.
“I consider Dr. Perez-Trepiechio a true role model,” says CCMS immediate past president Rebekah Bernard, M.D. “He always seems to strike a perfect balance between the care and compassion of a physician and the practicality and resourcefulness of a business leader. He is thoughtful and kind, while always being forthright and honest, which is essential in developing trust. Dr. Perez-Trepichio’'s leadership throughout CovidOVID-19 has been inspiring.”
He carried the messages of prevention, awareness, and education over to his fellow physicians, advanced practice providers, and Millennium staff, continually communicating more than 100 internal updates and delivering numerous presentations about the pandemic. He also lobbied the state on behalf of Millennium’'s patients, highlighting the need to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations.
“Through [his] tireless research and extensive knowledge, we established new protocols and processes for safety, testing, and vaccination, which allowed us to provide the best care for our patients during the pandemic,” says Millennium CEO Kevin Kearns.
To help end the Covid-19 pandemic as quickly as possible, Dr. Perez-Trepichio connected with his own patients, colleagues, and team members, as well as the community,and dedicated countless hours to the cause.
Dr. Perez-Trepichio is quick to share the credit. “I have to first and foremost acknowledge that many of my accomplishments and day-to-day professional activities would not have been possible without the unwavering support and understanding from my wife, Patty, my family, colleagues, my nurse Deanne Louis, team leader Kari Price-Crick, and scribe Suzette Yaklich, our marketing and PR team, and all of the exceptional Millennium team, starting from our CEO Kevin Kearns and our physician executive committee, as well as every dedicated staff and team member who’s risen above the challenges of the last two years,” he says. “I am also eternally thankful to my patients who continue to make my life meaningful as I still feel I can make a difference when I see a smile or even a timid tear., So, thank you!”
Jennifer Fairfield-Williams is a frequent TOTI contributor and enjoys covering the evolution of the health industry in Southwest Florida.