Hero of the year – our anesthesiologist, Dr. Becker has performed 20,000 vaccinations at the Orange County Surgery Center since New Year’s Day!

COVID-19 Update


Hero of the year – our anesthesiologist, Dr. Becker has performed 2,000 vaccinations at the Orange County Surgery Center since New Year’s Day!

Hello from all of us at Salisbury Plastic Surgery in Worcester, MA and Orange County Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA! We have all been vaccinated and hope that you will get the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you!

Beginning in January 2020, we started hearing news stories of an outbreak of a viral illness in China. Like Ebola and other diseases which seem to plague the Third World every few years, most of us at that time did not fear that this disease would hit us in the United States. But we were wrong! By the end of January, cases had been documented in the United States, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan. On February 3, 2020 the Trump administration declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement came 3 days after WHO had declared a Global Health Emergency as more than 9800 cases of the virus and more than 200 deaths had been confirmed worldwide. In February and March, cruise ships off the coast of the US had numerous sick patients confirmed to have been caused by the corona virus. A February conference by the drug company Biogen in Boston had a number of attendees from China – after the conference, 99 people were confirmed to have gotten infected with the corona virus while attending this conference, and this conference became our first major “super spreader” event - by the end of October, the number of people who could trace their infections to people who had initially attended this conference had grown to 300,000 people! On February 29th, 2020 the first corona virus deaths were reported in a long term care facility in Washington State, one of them a caregiver in his 50’s. The cat was out of the bag – we as Americans were certainly going to pay a price for this pandemic, and now a year later, the United States leads the world with total known COVID-19 cases and fatalities! One year ago today, a FAX arrived at Orange County Plastic Surgery from the Orange County Chief Health Officer, informing us of a Stay-At-Home order as of 5 pm on this date! And two days later, Governor Newsom issued a state-wide stay-at-home order, excluding essential workers. Massachusetts and many other States followed suit. We as plastic surgeons were not considered essential and had to close our doors. This was the first time in our lives that any of us had experienced anything like this! In this moment of reflection, we would like to thank you for the tremendous support you provided us during this most challenging year! We, of course, complied and kept our doors closed during the mandatory closures but stayed in touch and helped you as best as we could by phone, virtual meetings and e-mails. You, our patients, and our staff are our first priority. Since reopening, we have followed all safety recommendations, frequent testing and have now all been vaccinated. We have cared for many patients who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, but to our knowledge, none of the patients who we interacted with or our staff members have contracted a COVID infection as a result of an interaction in our offices. All of our surgery patients have had to have a mandatory COVID-19 rapid test immediately prior to surgery, and not one patient was found to be unexpectedly positive. And here we are a year later – more than 120 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2.67 million deaths worldwide (29.5 million cases and 535,000 deaths in the US alone).

COVID’s costs have included business closures and bankruptcies, job loss, loneliness, cancelled gatherings (even funerals), school closures, missed vacations, toilet paper and other essential item shortages, lasting health sequelae, and of course, many deaths. No country can go through this kind of trauma without being changed forever! Toilet paper is no longer a hot commodity. But many businesses could not adapt and did not survive. Many businesses will continue some form of working from home, which will certainly cause a ripple in commercial real estate in years to come – and thankfully lessen traffic on our freeways. Zoom and WebEx meetings have replaced many in-person meetings in the past year, at a massive time and cost savings to many individuals, governments and companies – and we certainly hope that some of this will continue.

Israel was very quick and aggressive in securing enough vaccine to inoculate its population and became the first country to widely vaccinate its people. While clinical trials have found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 infections, the Israeli data offers an early glimpse into how effective the vaccine is in a real-world setting – with most adults immunized, COVID-19 is no longer a practical problem in Israel. The United States has also been fairly aggressive in securing needed vaccines and President Biden has set May 1 as the date that the vaccine will be available to all Americans. In the past month alone, the rate of vaccinations in the US has ramped up about 40%, to an average of 2.3 million doses a day. To date, only Mississippi and Alaska have opened vaccinations to all of its citizens. The other States still have numerous restrictions but they are being eased, and should be non-existent by May 1st. California may as well not have any restrictions – this week, California announced that anyone with a disability or co-morbidity can get the vaccine, without having to prove that such a condition exists! And yes, we should be able to have a normal 4th of July this year, and normal weddings for Dr. Ekstrom’s son in August and Dr. Bunkis’ daughter in September. But it is disturbing to today see so many mask less and unvaccinated people on the news, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or Spring Break – this will certainly lead to another surge, just as the high number of vaccinated people should be driving the numbers down! Please use common sense and try to instill it in your family members! Wealthier countries like the UK now have a quarter of their people vaccinated. Other countries in Europe, our northern and southern neighbors, the Middle East and Africa have been less diligent about obtaining and distributing the vaccine. Disturbing news currently is showing a major surge in Europe with Italy and France again facing stay-at-home orders as the number of new cases and deaths surge. We at Orange County Plastic Surgery are so blessed that our anesthesiologist, Dr. Kevin Becker, had the foresight, fortitude and patience in dealing with County bureaucracy last fall to get our Orange County Surgery Center designated as a vaccination center for health care workers who did not belong to major health care organizations. By New Year’s Day, Dr. Becker and his team, including his wife, Carolyn, and daughter Katie (plus other anesthesiologists in his group, the OCSC nurses) began vaccinating health care workers, Drs. Bunkis and Ekstrom included, and so far have administered 20,000 vaccines! We all salute and thank you for a job well done!

Dr. B with Jo and Katie of OC Staff today – all vaccinated.

Dr. B with Jo and Katie of OC Staff today – all vaccinated.

Stay healthy! Stay happy and persevere! Feed the Courage Wolf instead of the Fear Wolf!

The end of the pandemic is almost here! Think 4th of July, not Spring Break or St. Patrick’s Day!

Keep wearing your masks in public, social distancing, and washing your hands frequently.

Get vaccinated when you get the opportunity!

Be grateful for what you have now and for what is on the horizon.

If you need Dr. Ekstrom or Dr. Bunkis, please call 949-888-9700 or visit our websites at:


Or for MA location, call 508-755-4911 or visit

You can respond in the comment section below or write to me at bunkis@ocps.com or Dr. Ekstrom at mds@salisburyps.com

Thanks for staying in touch and for your feedback!