BELEN—A prominent family that has three different medical practices in Belen has closed their offices due to COVID-19 exposure, and two members of the family are currently recovering from the virus’ symptoms.
Dr. Roland Sanchez, MD, who has a family practice in Belen, and his wife, Elia, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but a statement from the family didn’t provide details of their condition.
Tom Garrity, of The Garrity Group Public Relations in Albuquerque, said the family reached out to him last Thursday to speak on their behalf.
“The family appreciates prayers and positive thoughts for Dr. Sanchez and his wife, and can only share that they are relying on their faith and skilled physicians to treat their continuing recovery from coronavirus,” the Sanchez family wrote. “With two exceptions, the family members who have tested positive are asymptomatic.”
Along with Sanchez’s medical practice, those of his sons’, Dr. Roland Sanchez II, who owns Conquistador Dental, and Dr. Florian Sanchez, owner of Yucca Veterinary Medical Center, closed their respective offices on Aug. 10 and, according to voice recordings at each office, all three plan on reopening on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
But according to the statement from the family, the State of New Mexico’s Epidemiologist gave approval for the offices to reopen on Saturday, Aug. 22.
“We will be in contact with our scheduled patients about the process and procedures related to their visits,” the statement read. “We are informed that patients who may have been exposed to COVID-19 have been notified by the New Mexico Department of Health and its contact tracing team.
“The Sanchez family, through their practices, have reached out to the State of New Mexico to provide the names of people who might have come into contact with some employees who tested positive for COVID-19,” read a statement from the Sanchez family Garrity emailed to the News-Bulletin.
“The family is cooperating with the New Mexico Department of Health and Department of Workforce Solutions as they continue to follow best practices, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The offices have been professionally sanitized in advance for anticipated reopening.”
According to the New Mexico Environment Department’s most recent rapid response data, two employees were reported to NMED as positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 10, and three on Aug. 13 at Dr. Sanchez’s family practice.
Two employees at Yucca Veterinary Medical Center were reported on Aug. 10, and two employees at Conquistador Dental were also reported positive for the coronavirus, one on Aug. 10 and the other on Aug. 11.
The family’s farm, Red Doc Farm, in Bosque, also had one case of COVID-19 reported on Aug. 2.
“When the family learned about the potential of COVID-19 exposure, they took immediate action to have their employees tested and they reached out to the State of New Mexico Department of Health and Department of Workforce Solutions,” the family wrote in a statement. “There were exposures in the locations referenced, however, we cannot comment on any potential infections due to patients’ privacy concerns.”
Dr. Roland Sanchez, MD is a family medicine specialist in Belen, and has more than 45 years of experience in the medical field.
Dr. Roland K. Sanchez II, DDS, opened Conquistador Dental in Belen in November 2010. The office message at the dental office said if a patient has a dental emergency to call Dr. Cecil Sandoval, another Belen dentist.
Dr. Florian Sanchez, DVM, opened Yucca Veterinary Medical Center in October 2013. He relocated to his new location on Camino del Llano earlier this year.
When the News-Bulletin posed some follow-up questions — including about safety protocols in each practice while treating patients — this week to the Sanchez family through Garrity, he responded to the email by writing, “I spoke to the family … at this time they do not want to comment any further.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.