“Our birthdays are three days apart,” says Dr. Thomas Harless, of why he and medical assistant Anita Hernandez work so well together. “But beyond that, we have the same values, we think alike most of the time and we have always had similar thoughts about the best way to care for people.”
When an elderly patient who lives many miles from Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Center Downtown — where Dr. Harless practices internal medicine — called late one afternoon needing an antibiotic prescription filled, Dr. Harless didn’t think twice. He assured the patient that he would have the prescription filled and would deliver it to him on his way home from the office.
Hernandez overheard the exchange and, knowing Dr. Harless often worked late into the evening, offered to take it instead. When she arrived at the patient’s home with the prescription, she told him, “Whatever you need, we’re here.”
Thoughtful gestures like this are first nature for the pair. “We’re not just treating blood pressure or diabetes,” says Dr. Harless, “we’re paying attention to the things that might not make it into a patient’s chart.” Hernandez says these include listening to patients, holding their hands, hugging them, “whatever it takes,” she says.
This exceptional level of care has made Dr. Harless the doctor most recognized as a Guardian Angel in the Sharp Rees-Stealy system. The Guardian Angel program gives grateful patients the opportunity to make a gift to support advanced technology, facilities and programs at Sharp HealthCare while paying tribute to doctors, nurses and staff who have made a difference in their care. Dr. Harless has had more than 600 gifts made by patients and loved ones in his honor, and Hernandez is also among the top recognized Guardian Angel caregivers in the system.
Dr. Harless says it is humbling to see what patients have done out of gratitude for the care he and Hernandez provide. Hernandez adds, “It is an honor that patients think of us in that regard and take the time to be so generous and thoughtful, especially when they are dealing with illnesses and health issues.”
What’s even more remarkable is that many of the team’s patients give over and over again.
Though these two Guardian Angels go above and beyond for their patients every day, they continue to be surprised, humbled and overjoyed by each thankful recognition they receive. In their minds they are simply doing what they should be for their patients: whatever it takes.
If you would like to recognize a special doctor through the Guardian Angel program in time for National Doctors’ Day (March 30) while also supporting Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers, visit sharp.com/doctorsday or contact Sharp HealthCare Foundation at 858-499-4800.