COVID 365: A year on lockdown and a spotlight on positives in Central California

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- During the past year, the coronavirus brought a great deal of change in the world and much of it is negative.

"It's been a helluva year," said Dr. Patrick Macmillan, chief of hospice and palliative care at UCSF Fresno.

Illness and grief have come in waves through their hospice care unit.

They've faced challenges in sheer numbers and in keeping families connected when they couldn't be together as death approached.

But there have been some positive changes too.

Dr. Macmillan remembers figuring out how to make it work so relatives could get closure.

"I felt like I was able to form this virtual relationship with them over Zoom," he said.

The last year highlighted the importance of health care workers and brought them closer together in places like the Community Hospital ICU.

"I think one of the biggest positives that has come from this is just the camaraderie," said Ashley Bowers, R.N.

Other industries saw massive changes too, especially at first.

Real estate had to hit the pause button, but broker Brian Domingos says it served as a good reminder of the importance of just unplugging.

"It came to a screeching halt," he said. "We sheltered in place at home and got a little bit of a mental reprieve to spend time with family."

The real estate market took off when they came back and a lot of realtors had their best years.

Courts closed across the state, then reopened on a mostly virtual basis, which legal analyst Tony Capozzi says made the entire legal system work a bit better.

"Things go a lot faster, a lot smoother," he said. "And I think it's much more expedient for the courts, a lot easier for the attorneys."

A lot of people told us they lost weight during the pandemic, but with most gyms closed for months, they needed a different approach.

"With COVID, none of our routines were there anymore," said Nick Hansard, a UC Merced IT manager from Atwater. "Everything changed and because everything changed and we had to find our new normal, I think it made it a little bit easier to start a new habit."

Hansard has lost more than 90 pounds on a fitness kick that started with walking his dog as an excuse to just get out of the house.

He says he's got a long way to go, but his family is very proud of his progress.

And that brings us back to Dr. Macmillan, who says the pandemic might've saved his family.

His 32-year marriage was in the ICU before COVID came, but he and his wife, Peg, took the extra time together to reconnect.

"In March (2020), looking at ending a marriage to now in March (2021), you know, feeling in love has probably been one of the greatest gifts I could ever have," Dr. Macmillan said.

A year of COVID-19 putting a spotlight on what's really important.
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