Emergency Physician of 44 Years Postpones Retirement to Fight COVID-19

13 April 2020

From Seaman Imani N. Daniels

Dr. Francis Watson, emergency physician for Naval Medical Center Portsmouth's (NMCP) Emergency Department (ED), graciously decided to postpone his retirement in an effort to help fight Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Francis Watson, MD, emergency physician for Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s (NMCP) Emergency Department (ED), graciously decided to postpone his retirement in an effort to help fight COVID-19 and embrace teamwork alongside his fellow ED physicians.

Retired physicians across the country are being asked to reenlist and rejoin the health care workforce to help fight the worldwide pandemic, while many others courteously volunteer. 

Watson, an emergency physician for 44 years, had planned to retire in March after working at NMCP, as well as Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and Branch Health Clinic Naval Station Norfolk.

“My retirement was to take place March 13, which so happened to be a Friday the 13th,” Watson said. “The following Monday, I was going to start my check out process and that’s when I decided I wanted to stay and help those in need.”

After news outlets broke stories about the ongoing and worsening effect that COVID-19 was having on the country, Watson made up in his mind that he must answer the call.

“My only thought was that now is not the time to leave fellow doctors and nurses in need of help,” Watson said.

Watson, currently working in triage, spoke highly of how it has impacted NMCPs’ fight against the virus. 

“I believe this process is working well,” Watson said. “We are keeping patients out of the waiting area and taking some of the pressure off of the ER. We are treating and releasing patients more quickly through car triage screenings, so I believe it is reducing the volume and stress of the department.”

Watson declares he is fulfilling his duty as a physician by continuing his efforts in healthcare.

“When I decided not to retire yet, I told my children that there is no honor in leaving the battle,” Watson said. “I want to stay and help my colleagues.”   

As the U.S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating military hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally-acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, along with the area's 10 branch health and TRICARE Prime Clinics, provide care for the Hampton Roads area.  The medical center also supports premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman for future roles in healing and wellness.

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