"And now with COVID-19, I would recommend all my older patients and diabetic patients to please make sure they take all their medicine, so that there's nothing holding their immune system back." - Dr. Harvey Castro, MD
Shireen: Dr. Harvey Castro is highly skilled board certified emergency room physician, and has been voted a best doctor in Dallas from 2014 through 2020. Practicing as a physician, coupled with his passion to serve others, has motivated him for the last 17 years. This motivation is a backbone of his experience and co-founding of trusted medical centers. Dr. Castro, welcome on our show today.
Dr. Castro: Thank you. It's an honor to be here and thank you for your time.
Shireen: Oh, absolutely. It's a pleasure. I want to dive right in and ask you what led you to practice medicine?
Dr. Castro: Honestly, my first job ever was working in a health food store, and my first day, but my boss told me I want you to memorize this whole aisle, memorize all these vitamins and what they do and herbs and whatnot. So I literally took it to heart and I started learning herbs and vitamins. And long story short, I would have patients come in, say, “Hey, I'm losing, I'm trying to lose weight, I'm having menstrual cramps, I'm having XYZ” and I'm like, “Oh, my gosh, you need to try this herb, you need to try this vitamin.” And I actually created a business at age 15 for this, and I started selling vitamins and herbs. And long story short, I was like, I love the science like this is so close, like. Can you imagine if I could prescribe and actually do alternative medicine and medicine? So I was like, “That's it, I'm going to be a doctor.” And so I studied hard, I made it through all the rigorous training, and here I am. But I'm still helping. I love what I do and it's still that passion to help others. So that's kind of what sparked me to go into healthcare.
Shireen: That's lovely and so you were an entrepreneur at 15.
Dr. Castro: Yeah, it's kind of crazy.
Shireen: Love that. So I want to, I want to dive right in and speak a little bit about COVID-19. We know that and of course, you've, you've been on the frontlines of this, you're you're seeing this every day. So we know that people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses are at risk of complications from COVID-19. Staying at home, of course, it's the best way to prevent the spread. If one is going out of the house, what can they really do when they come back in the house to make sure that they and their loved, loved ones are safe?
Dr. Castro: Yeah, excellent question. You know, some of the tips are pretty simple, but we don't think about for example, I would keep an extra pair of shoes that I never wear inside the house. And so what I personally do is I'll wear my shoes, I'll go out, I'll do whatever it is. And then when I get back at home at the door, I'll have a box with shoes, and I just put my shoes there. And then I have other shoes that go in the house. I personally depending on my environment that I'm in, I go home, I change immediately I shower, I have clothes ready that I when I'm home. I came up with this acronym called tweed, basically, I think it's important for you to test yourself, W means wash your hands, there's two E's in there. So educate yourself, and then educate your others about it. So there's so much information like the CDC is always keeping information up to date. And I think that's a good website to just keep looking on COVID and see what the CDC has to say, because that's what all of us doctors are doing. We're following the CDC guidelines. D, obviously, distance yourself and that's hard because you have your loved ones you want to hug. You want to hug mom, Grandpa, but at this time, it's a little tough in the sense that if you god forbid you're caring, you don't know it, and you're going around with your mom or grandma, you may make that person sick. So you got to be very careful. So D is very important. And then M wear your mask, keep your distance. Interesting little tidbit. In Europe, they're recommending three feet in the United States at six feet. My theory is if you tell someone six, they'll probably do three, if you tell someone three, they probably do one or two. So I bet you that's probably why, with that said don't don't go to three, stay at six. The farther you are, the less likely you are going to get it. So there is some science to that. So do keep your distance. Lovely.
Shireen: And then what, what are you seeing in your clinics right now? Especially when it comes to people with diabetes? Are they able to come in? Are you seeing them? What are their concerns? Sort of what, what is top of mind?
Dr. Castro: Yeah, excellent question. Diabetes, in my opinion comes in several flavors in the sense that you could be a new onset diabetes, or you could have been diagnosed when you're young. And so depending where you are, tells me how long you've had the disease. If you've had your disease since you were 10, and I'm looking at a 40 year old and in reality that person's had diabetes for 30 years, it's very likely that that 30 year old body and immune system is like someone that's actually 60 years old, as opposed to someone that's 30 with no diabetes, they're two different people. But when I hear diabetes, it's a red flag for me saying okay, this person could be immunosuppressed. This person can have issues now the key question again would be is what is your hemoglobin a one c? Where are you at because that person since age will say they got diagnosed at age 10. They've been very strict. They've been taking their medicine they don't, they watch their diet. They have very controlled and that person is a little different. Because if that person's look my hemoglobin wants to see has always been normal, then I'm like, “Okay, well, this person might not be 60. Now, maybe this person has his body hasn't taken a hit, because they've been so diligent, but their diabetes.” And so some of the things that we're seeing at our emergency rooms are patients with diabetes that have big complications, and we have some that don't. And interesting enough, there is a correlation on their sugars. So the next question would be like, “Well, you know, if I have diabetes, I haven't control it. Well, what's the use of controlling it now? Well, now it's huge. Now. Now more than ever. Now, with COVID-19, you want to boost your immune system, you want to make sure that you as a person can do everything possible. The beauty is now there's medicine, in there's some diseases out there that do not have medicine. So you have a pill that can help you have an injection that can help you have a diet that can help you can have all these tools, why not use all these tools for your diabetes? And now with COVID-19, I would recommend all my older patients and diabetic patients to please make sure they take all their medicine, so that there's nothing holding their immune system back.
Shireen: And then are they what is top of mind for them? Are they concerned about getting the virus? Are they concerned? You know, sort of what, what are you hearing from them?
Dr. Castro: It's interesting, I say this a lot. I feel like life is a bell curve. You know, there's people on one extreme that are so worried that they don't want anyone coming to their house, they want to be excluded 100% from everyone. And then there's the other side that they are, they know they have risk factors, they know they're of age, and not that they don't care, but they're not washing their hands or not wearing a mask or not keeping their distance. In their mind they're like, “Ah, it's not gonna be me,” and there's that mentality. Now, again, I said, bell curves. So two extremes, I think the majority of the people are washing their hands, keeping the distance, I think they're learning and I think this disease is about education. I think as the whole as the whole United States, or let's take it more the whole world learns, the more will adapt to the new norm, the new norm now is wearing a mask and keeping distance with time I think more people are educated, the more the disease will go down, because people are educated and actually doing what they are told that they should be doing. So I think that's the key, it's education with these people. And the more everyone's learning, including myself, the more we're helping, the more we're contributing, and I call it the psychosocial cause right now, all of us, it's our social duty, to do our part, and to keep our tweet intact, keeping your distance and mask and everything I've recommended. So I think that's big. In the diabetes world. If I had diabetes, I would worry, I know, I've been told borderline. So then I personally started working out and started eating better and watching what I eat and watching my weight. And you know, there are certain populations, you know, best who get the diabetes, and what their body looks like and why and so then I'm working at those things to make sure that I'm not that statistic later.
Shireen: Mm hmm. And I think you touched on something very important right now is one of the things that we're seeing is, in fact, the New York Times put out some information on this as well, from the CDC, sitting that when we look at minorities in particular, we've already been hearing of Latino groups, black groups that are, you know, where cases of debts are higher from COVID-19 within these minority groups And then we also are hearing now that they're also getting infected at a higher rate. And so that drives down to some of the, you know, some of the, the types of jobs that they have, they cannot, you know, these aren't, these aren't jobs where you can sit at a desk or you know, sort of work from home. And, you know, some of us have that options, and others don't. And so that runs into a complication to where they're having to go into work, because they have bills to pay because they have to, you know, pay rent and utilities, all those types of things. And, and so when we're looking at minority groups, it seems like some of those are causing an inflection in you know, in, in getting the, the virus itself. What are you seeing to that? What are you seeing with the patients that, that you see, to that end?
Dr. Castro: Yeah, you know, I've thought this through a lot and I agree with that statement. I believe it is the job that a lot of these patients have that is putting them at risk. Every time I go to fast food or dry cleaners or anywhere or just workers I look and I'm seeing minorities that are taking care of me and I'm thinking wow, these are the front lines. These are the people that are out there. She's you know, the other day, the first person food person had gloves on, had a mask, had the mirror in the glass to keep the distance made sure that I didn't touch her and gave her the credit card and I put it in and held it, didn't touch her but I thought this is the population that is likely to get it because think of how many people that are coming interaction with. The other thing that we, that I believe truly is it's where you live. I grew up in a small apartment in New York City, and we shared elevators and we shared the stairs and we shared close proximity. I remember hating being on the subway because I felt, like, I was like, someone was right in my face. And I felt like there was a million people on me and I was like, “that's just life.” And so if that's what your life is every day, then I would expect that you're there's no social distancing there. I mean, they're in your face coughing, and I remember being in New York, somebody's coffee and thinking, “Man, I hope they don't have anything because I'm sharing the same air and we're like, in each other's faces.” So I think from a social economical point of view, there's some people that are living in certain conditions that we can add. And those conditions are attributing to that. And it goes back to education, I think, as everyone gets educated and realizes, “Hmm, I really should wear my mask, I should wash my hands. And you know what, maybe I shouldn't go up the elevator with million people. Maybe I'll wait for the next one. Or maybe I'll just take the stairs.” I think with time, it'll get better. And that's why I think it's so important to just educate. I love what you're doing with your podcast, because you're educating others on this disease.
Shireen: Thank you. We're definitely trying. One of the things that, that I'm curious to learn about is, how do you sort of see this going? Right, how do you, how do you see this virus sort of continuing to you know, I mean, this is not this is not going to be I think when it first started in March, we're kind of like, oh, a couple of weeks. And, you know, thanks, we'll be back to normal. Things have not worked out that way. And so that with this virus being here to stay, you know, probably longer than, than we had anticipated, what are you projecting with the patients that you're seeing their lifestyle, their mental health? I think that that's a huge thing right now, because where the anxiety is, is, you know, sort of hitting an all time high. How do you see this evolving over time? By the time we have up till the time we have a vaccine, hopefully soon, sooner rather than later. But how do you see this evolving into their lifestyle? Up till that point, if this is a matter of months, and you know, probably a couple of years in? How do you see that impacting their lifestyle and mental health?
Dr. Castro: Yeah, good question. Not to harp on the same thing. But I think the key at all. This is education. And why is because when you get educated, you see things differently until you're educated, you still do the way you've been taught you do. You know, this is how I take care of patients. This is how I do business people in the world. This is how I do stuff. All of a sudden, it's like, Whoa, social distancing here, the rules and their suit, new set of rules. So I think how this impacts you is the sooner you accept what has been happening and what has changed, the faster we will all adapt. And so my point is the following. I think the first vaccine that comes out is probably not going to be as effective as the subsequent one. And so everybody's like, “Oh, my gosh, let's have that vaccine.” But look at the flu. Some years people get the flu shot, and it works. And some years they get in it doesn't really work that well and the CDC say yeah, this shot this year shots not that good. So my point is this, when it comes to mental health, I think it's important that we're all used to that social interaction, we're used to seeing our loved ones and being close and family members and workers. And we're just that's just life for people that are just used to being together, we're not meant to be in our own silos and not around anyone else. So I think, number one, we have seen an increase in depression and anxiety and suicides, we're seeing increase in just anger stuff out there, you know, like you're hearing domestic violence is going up. You know, I think a lot of this is people are stressed out, they, they need to get out, they need to do stuff, and they're being told to stay in a box. And so I think one is education. And when I say education, look at the, let's break that down. So if it's mental health, and let's work on coping mechanisms, let's talk on these zoom meetings. My cousin sent me a zoom birthday party invite yesterday and I was like, “this is kind of cool. I get to see her, I get to see family, and it's a zoom meeting.” And, you know, these are the kinds of things that again, educate yourself. Let's start doing you know, I love and it gave me tears and chills when I saw on the news that older lady's birthday and the whole family drove by and they honk their horn and they had signs and Happy Birthday. I mean, those are the things that that lady I'm sure she was sad and depressed and when she saw her family loved ones there, they kept her distance, they thought outside the box, but they still accomplished that. So I would see if the more we all get educated, the more we start doing these things, that it now becomes the new norm, at that point is when depression and anxiety and stuff will go down. Long term unfortunately, I keep saying this over on other people I meet with the new norm is now forget about last Christmas and the Christmas before that, that's gone. It's the new vacations, the new summer vacations, a new way of doing business that is the new way of doing things and that's here to stay and it's not going anywhere. That's not by me or anyone that's just life, unfortunately. So we're creatures of habits and so we need to create new habits and to do new habits. We need to educate so that we can understand what, why we're doing these actions and why we're moving forward. For the disease process in my mind, I see two years. I think it's gonna be about two years because the first round of vaccine are not going to be as great. They're still going to be contagious, people are still gonna be out there. But once I almost feel like the bell curve, again example, I feel like the majority of people have to have had the disease, have to have been immune to it. But then you still have your outliers, you'll still have the very young, the very old, and people with diabetes will still be there. And so we still have to take care of them. I'm going blank, which country it is, but there's a country out there that takes care of their elderly, they literally said there's this thing called COVID. They took the elderly, they put them in a box and said, “Hey, we're going to protect them from everybody else.” And their mortality rate has dropped because they're keeping them safe. Not that we can't do that. But again, it's back to education. How are we preventing disease? How can we stop? And I think it's gonna take a while. And the sooner we all are educated, the sooner we get there, we get our vaccine, the bell curve now is a strong population that knows what they're doing and gets the disease down. Then at that point, we can start opening things up again and moving forward. But I think it's going to be a while. The problem with this is like any disease once you have a disease if it mutates and it becomes a new disease, and that vaccine is no, no, we need another one. It's almost like going back to the basic that tweet acronym. I think it's important. Because again, you're educating, you're learning, you're keeping your distance, you're wearing your mask, all that good stuff.
Shireen: Yeah, no, I appreciate that and I think and I think you touched on something very important. So definitely the education but also the acceptance of it, right? And I think when we when we keep comparing our life, well, last year, I was able to do this, or you know, few years ago, I was able to do this, and now I can't, I think it's the can't that is preventing us from moving forward. It's not what you can't do, but what you still can do, right? And I think that shift is where the frustration lies is because you're looking at it a certain way and how things need to go back to “normal.” But this is a normal and I think there's a huge part of just sort of accepting that and moving on that will, that will help with just the anxiety itself. But thank you, for thank you for sharing that. So with that, Dr. Castro, toward the end of the episode, I will love for our listeners here to learn more about your work and learn about how they can connect with you.
Dr. Castro: Awesome. Well, I'm the president, trust me, we have seven locations here in DFW, we have a hospital in Mansfield, 60 yards throughout. We have a main capelle hearse, uptown Dallas, Sherman, Texas; Valley Ranch. We're about to open one in Colleyville in the fall. Ways with connecting with us depends what your needs are, we actually just added a pediatric urgent care in Las colinas area, and we have a wound care as well in, in Mansfield. And we're about to open our own COVID-19 testing center. So the easiest way would be to go to trusted medical centers calm and see what locations close to you. What I love about our company is that we see the patient and we see the bigger picture as opposed to just seeing you as a number. We're doing whatever we can for our community. So we're diligently working on our own hotline for COVID-19 for patients to be able to call and us be able to answer these questions. So we should have that up and running in the next two weeks. This COVID outpatient Testing Center also in the next two weeks, we're also doing things for the employers, we right now have a mobile unit that will go to the employer and test everybody that's working there and give them results he next morning. So we're doing whatever we can to do our part and our social responsibility and as healthcare providers, we're representing trusted people. So yeah, feel free to contact us. And if you have any questions, I can say firsthand that that's what I personally go and it's not a sales pitch is I feel like all the doctors have teams have been trained to do whatever is best for the patient. And we do things a little differently. For example, I'll just say this fast. Someone comes in with a tension headache, we'll actually call them a masseuse to give them a massage, and then just jump on medicine. But if they need medicine, we will someone's throwing up, we won't let them leave vomiting, we'll make sure that their fluids and they're taking care of and we're addressing the issue and someone's going home, we're making sure we're calling the doctor to who's gonna follow up with this patient. And so we do a lot of things for our patient. And we do it because we sincerely love what we do and so that's some of the medical centers.
Shireen: I love that. And so our listener base is you know, we definitely got local listeners, but then we've also got some nationwide and even international listeners. Yeah, so we'd love to maybe, you're writing something right, you're, you have a book coming out.
Dr. Castro: Yes, I'm so excited. It's called Success Reinvention. And it's basically, I grew up from a single parent, my mom raised me at 15. And she, we were poor, poor in New York City, and she gave me the tools to succeed and so I wrote everything down my experiences, my failures, the ups and downs, but I put it all in a book and it's coming out next month. I'm excited to be able to give back to the community. So it'll be in English. It'll be in Spanish. I'm working on translating to Portuguese. And then it'll be an E book, but also a paperback book. So that'll be out next month for sure.
Shireen: And what is, what is the name of the book again?
Dr. Castro: The book is called Success Reinvention. And I created a website called success reinvention dot com and if anyone likes, they can put in their email and they'll send them the first chapter for free, and I'm working on some more information on there to just give away for free just to help out people. Again my main goal is to help others. I think if I'm helping that mother, that dad, then they're helping that son or daughter, and then it just continues to pay forward. And that's my goal.
Shireen: Lovely. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time, Dr. Castro. It has been an absolute pleasure.
Dr. Castro: Thank you so much.