Dr. Vito Imbasciani has been at war with viruses since he was 5.
Growing up near the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, he contracted polio in 1952 and couldn’t walk for two months. In medical school in Vermont 30 years later, he witnessed AIDS steal the lives of otherwise healthy gay men.
Now, Imbasciani, secretary of California’s Department of Veterans Affairs, and his staff are responsible for keeping the novel coronavirus away from the state’s eight veterans homes. California’s defenses are holding.
The explanation, many say, lies in CalVet’s intense preparation, quick response, attention to hygiene and leadership, starting with Imbasciani, a physician and retired colonel who not too many years ago could have been discharged from the military because he is gay.
“We created our own fortune,” Imbasciani said, looking to knock on wood.
Deaths are part of life in the state-run veterans homes. The