On April 18, thousands of runners will line up in Hopkinton to run this year’s Boston Marathon. The world will be watching these athletes as they pound the pavement looking exhausted and stressed and eagerly hoping to cross the finish line.
One of those runners will be Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, a Hopkinton resident and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Milford Regional Medical Center. While he runs the grueling 26.2 miles into Boston that day, he’ll be thinking of his colleagues, who have been running their own marathon for the past two years.
Like so many hospitals, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Milford Regional hard.
“We really started seeing our first cases in March of 2020, when the state of emergency was declared,” said Hopkins. “I think at our peak, we had about half of our beds filled with COVID patients.”
The influx of COVID patients at Milford Regional meant much longer times in the waiting room, and even longer waits for a hospital bed.
“We were just so packed. Patients would have to be seen in a hallway,” Hopkins explained.
Hopkins also saw an increase of patients suffering from anxiety, substance abuse and depression.
“If someone needed to go to an inpatient psychiatric facility, many times there weren’t enough beds at those facilities. At any one time, we’ve had 10 to 20 behavioral patients at the hospital, waiting for a psychiatric bed to open up somewhere,” Hopkins explained.
Through the years, the Hopkinton resident said, the medical community has dealt with different viruses, including Ebola and H1N1.
“We’ve had different scares over the years, but they never really grew to the level of a pandemic,” he said. “They were brief and then ended. This [the coronavirus] has been very different. But this is why we went into medicine — to take care of patients.”
Seeing his colleagues’ strength, perseverance and commitment over the past couple of years inspired Hopkins to want to run this year’s marathon, to honor them and raise funding for the hospital.
“I figured to show support, what better way than to do something that also requires a lot of endurance and commitment,” he said. “My colleagues have shown that every day, but it’s also the been the maintenance and facilities people, the administrative staff, the people working in the cafeteria, everyone who kept the hospital running 24/7. They’re the reason I’m running.”
As part of his marathon experience, Hopkins is raising funds for the Milford Regional Healthcare Foundation.
“Basically the funding raised will go wherever it’s needed most,” he said.
Shefali Desai, chair of the foundation’s Board of Trustees, said Hopkins’ commitment to his colleagues and community is inspiring.
“Dr. Hopkins is one of the strongest leaders I’ve had the pleasure working alongside,” Desai said. “His support of Milford Regional Medical Center reaches over many facets of the organization, including his enthusiasm surrounding philanthropy and the Healthcare Foundation. His commitment to the 2022 Boston Marathon in support of the Medical Center is a true inspiration and testament to his dedication to our community.”
Hopkins, who has a number of marathons under his belt, will be joined by his wife, Sarah, who is running for the Michael Lisnow Respite Center.
To make a donation in support of Dr. Hopkins, visit Foundation.MilfordRegional.org/GetInvolved/SpecialEvents/2022BostonMarathon/.