Joe HernandezUCSF School of Medicine student Joe Olivares Hernandez, who classmates and professors describe as thoughtful, warm and kindhearted, will be taken off life support pending arrangements for organ donation.
Hernandez has been hospitalized at the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) after suffering a devastating brain injury early Sunday morning.
A fourth-year medical school student, Hernandez had just completed an Emergency Medicine rotation at SFGH last month.
Details surrounding the incident are under investigation by the San Francisco Police Department.
“I have met with Joe’s family to express the school’s support,” Hawgood said in an email sent today to faculty, staff and students. “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
Originally from Winchester in San Bernardino County, Hernandez, 30, did his undergraduate work at California State University in San Bernardino, majoring in biochemistry.
Classmates describe Hernandez as a soft-spoken, gentle man whose incredibly kind and dedicated nature made it impossible not to be drawn to him.
He was “clearly always listening,” said classmate Amanda Yeaton-Massey, “something he let you know with his glowing smile, not to mention the twinkle in his eyes.”
Hernandez treated his patients with the same kindness he showed fellow classmates.
"You could tell that Joe cared for his patients," said David Duong, MD, MS, an assistant professor in the SFGH Emergency Medicine Department. "He would go above and beyond his role as a student to comfort his patients in a hectic emergency department environment, educate them about their medical care, and assure their safety if they were discharged. He always showed up to didactics and shifts with a big smile and displayed the warmest of bedside manners."
Not only was an eager and friendly young student lost, but the medical community lost a promising and caring future doctor as well.
“I've seen Joe care for patients and families who were in similar devastating situations as he has experienced over the past few days. He did so with compassion, empathy and grace and his patients loved him for it,” said classmate Tushani Illangasekare. “Everyone's feeling of loss at this time reflects what a impact he's made on every life he has touched.”
Hernandez’s “unexpected and untimely passing is also a very difficult experience for the entire UCSF community,” Hawgood said.
In his email message, Hawgood noted that the Advisory College Mentors, the Student Well-being staff, deans Maxine Papadakis and Helen Loeser and all the UME staff are available to students for individual assistance. Members of this support team will also make themselves available in the student lounge for informal discussion.
In addition, Student Health and Counseling Services can provide students with the support they might need in processing this event. Anyone who wants to speak with someone immediately should call 415/476-1281 and press “7” to be connected to a licensed counselor. During our regular hours, student health staff can also arrange a visit with one of the counselors. For additional guidance regarding emergencies and after hours care, visit the student health website.
UCSF employees also can get the confidential services of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program by calling 415/476-8279 and the Spiritual Care Services Program by calling 415/443-CARE. More information about the program is available here.