SANTA PAULA, Calif. -- A local family doctor in Santa Paula has become a sad example of the ravages of COVID-19, his personal fight reflecting the tragedy that has killed hundreds in Ventura County and more than 400,000 nationwide.
Dr. Jon Schrock is a well-known family doctor in Santa Paula. In his practice, he's cared for people for almost 50 years, but two weeks ago he came down with the coronavirus and by Friday was fighting for his life.
He sadly passed away the very next day.
However, at his insistence, NewsChannel 3 met with Dr. Schrock who wanted to make sure others knew what he was going through and how important it was to take steps to prevent contracting the devastating virus.
As of Friday, Dr. Schrock was one of 83 COVID-19 patients needing intensive care treatment in Ventura County hospitals. He graduated from a residency program at Ventura County Medical Center in 1970.
How he contracted COVID remains unclear.
“I have no idea,” Dr. Schrock said. “We used PPE in the office, and I was cautious.”
Dr. Schrock was still seeing patients until he was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
“Every day has been a little worse, even in the hospital,” he said.
Dr. Shrock was not able to get the vaccine before he got sick. “It wasn’t offered to us,” he said. “We tried to get it and could not.”
Dr. Schrock declined a ventilator, even as he struggled to breathe. He said it was important to tell his story--that COVID is real and is taking lives.
“It’s my lovely family and God's graces that I am still here,” he said Friday afternoon. “I believe that every breath I take is a gift from God.”
Dr. Schrock's condition worsened on Thursday when his oxygen levels dropped dramatically. Santa Paula Hospital ICU physician Mark Lepore is overseeing treatment. He held back tears as he described the deteriorating condition of his patient and colleague.
“He was breathing at 50 times a minute and he didn’t want me to start morphine on him,” Dr. Lepore said.
“I had to tell him I was going to anyway because he looked like he was suffering horribly. His breaths are so shallow. It is not sustainable. His breathing is like he ran a marathon for two weeks. It is not doing anything but exhausting him. He can’t even swallow. He chokes, so we increased the morphine. I told him it’s ok. He told me 'I love you.' I am not sure if it was to me or his son, and I told him I love him back. And I told him it’s OK for him to go to sleep and pass because I don’t want to prolong his death anymore,” Dr. Lepore said.
His battle finally came to an end on Saturday at 1 p.m.