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Pathologist Dr. Gordon Johnson Studies COVID-19 While Also Working To Help His Community


As a recipient of this year’s Palm Beach County Medical Society’s 2020 Heroes in Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Gordon Johnson of Wellington nowadays spends his time giving back to the community while also studying the COVID-19 virus. A pathologist with deep ties to Wellington Regional Medical Center, Johnson retired early, nearly a decade ago, to devote all his energies to unpaid work for Wellington and the wider region. During the current pandemic, that includes research work into the COVID-19 virus. (Below and right) Dr. Gordon Johnson at his home in Wellington.

20 july 2020 | wellington the magazine

“As a pathologist, a doctor who studies diseases, it is natural that I would be interested in COVID-19,” Johnson said. “It requires between one to three hours each day for me to do research and study of the literature of therapies being used to remain current on the state of the virus.” Much of his volunteer time over the past several months has been assisting in studying COVID-19 treatments. “I am working with the retired physicians of the Palm Beach County Medical Society to study COVID-19 convalescent plasma for people that have had the virus,” Johnson explained. “Currently, we don’t yet know for certain that a person who has had the virus develops immunity from contracting repeated infections. It is something that needs more study.” Johnson is one of thousands of physicians currently engaged in this type of research. “It is a lot of time and work to stay actively involved and stay on top of the virus situation,” Johnson said. “I follow what we are finding out about the disease, such as where the research is and what we know about the tests. Some data are anecdotal results of antibody tests.There is so much that we don’t yet know.”

As the community responds to the virus emergency, Johnson is doing some consulting on sports in the village and the possibility of normalizing the resumption of basketball in Wellington. They are discussing the measures needed for the players and coaches to make sure CDC recommendations and standards are being met relative to protection, social distancing, hygiene and cleanliness, and even how to take the participants’ temperatures. Johnson stressed that returning to daily life will require a great uptick in testing. “Testing is the key. We’ve got to test, then trace connections, then isolate those exposed. That’s the method: test, trace, isolate,” he said. “It’s a big initiative to get all this out to the community. There is a lot to be done.We are sequestered, and you think you can’t do something, but with ingenuity and hard work, you can.” In retirement, Johnson, who will be 70 on his next birthday, spends his time in service to others. “I am running into men and women all the time who are afraid to retire,” said Johnson, referring to one of his pet causes.“Their job defines them, and they fear they will have no purpose once they retire. ‘What do you do all day?’ they ask.”

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