When reporters have questions about COVID‑19, Dr. Edward Oldfield is the expert they call on.
As a sophomore at Norfolk Catholic High School, Edward Oldfield, III, MD, would sometimes stay up late reading, engrossed in his favorite book. But it was no James Bond thriller or Marvel comic that captivated the teen.
It was a microbiology textbook. “I read it like a novel,” he recalls, a fact that would surprise no one who knows him today.
As EVMS’ primary spokesperson about COVID‑19, Dr. Oldfield is a familiar face on local TV newscasts. It’s a role the infectious disease specialist has reprised often during his 27 years with EVMS.
“I believe our viewers do and should trust Dr. Oldfield,” says Stephanie Harris, Anchor and Reporter with WAVY-TV 10 and WVBT-TV FOX43. “In my experience interviewing him over more than a decade, he has never steered me wrong. The information he has provided in the past has always been accurate, and I have every reason to believe that he continues to work with the same dedication and diligence as he studies new diseases such as COVID‑19.”
Dr. Oldfield has an almost uncanny ability to synthesize information about new infectious diseases and critically evaluate the scientific rigor of research. His intellectual curiosity builds upon his accumulated experiences to share new knowledge with his audiences in an authentic, yet humble, manner.
Robert Palmer, MD, MPH
That same dedication led Dr. Oldfield to build the Infectious Diseases division of EVMS from the ground up. It also inspired the career achievement of which he is most proud: creating a system of care in southeastern Virginia for underinsured and uninsured HIV/AIDS patients. Thanks to his commitment, the eight clinics he set up around the region have received more than $20 million in grant funding, most of it from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.
HIV/AIDS had barely emerged in 1981 when Dr. Oldfield launched his career as a Navy physician. He trained in the Navy’s first class of Infectious Disease fellows, and over his 22 years of active-duty service, he investigated infectious disease outbreaks in Egypt, Panama, Somalia and Sudan. He also served as specialty advisor in infectious diseases to the Surgeon General of the Navy. When he retired as a captain in 1993, he returned to his hometown and joined EVMS.
Robert Palmer, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine, is his boss.
“Dr. Oldfield has an almost uncanny ability to synthesize information about new infectious diseases and critically evaluate the scientific rigor of research,” Dr. Palmer says. “Then he translates for professionals and the public the state-of-the art in diagnosis, control, prevention and cure of these diseases. His intellectual curiosity builds upon his accumulated experiences to share new knowledge with his audiences in an authentic, yet humble, manner.”
For the Oldfields, medicine is a family affair. Dr. Oldfield’s wife, Stephanie, is a nurse practitioner specializing in urology; their son, Edward IV, earned his medical degree at EVMS in 2014 and is a gastroenterology fellow at the University of Virginia; and their daughter-in-law, Charlene, also a 2014 EVMS graduate, is a dermatologist.
Six years ago, Dr. Oldfield decided to step down as Director of EVMS Infectious Diseases and reduce his hours to part time. But when COVID‑19 became a pandemic, he was back in the office seven days a week. He has conducted COVID‑19 trainings and made numerous presentations for EVMS and Sentara healthcare providers. Along with his work at EVMS, he also is Medical Director for the Infection Prevention High-Performance Team that serves all hospitals in the Sentara Healthcare system.
“I’ve always preferred the word ‘we’ rather than ‘I,’” Dr. Oldfield says. “It’s only with team effort that we can accomplish things. When it comes to COVID‑19, it’s teamwork. I’ve been very impressed with how EVMS has come together. I’m proud of the effort our school has made.”
Kurt Williams, a long-time Anchor and Reporter for News 3 WTKR-TV, has interviewed Dr. Oldfield regularly about COVID‑19.
“He genuinely cares about public health,” Mr. Williams says. “He knows how to break down complex issues, so they’re easy to comprehend. That’s why we consistently request his expertise. He is an extremely valuable resource for the Hampton Roads community and beyond.”
ROBERT PALMER, MD, MPH, is the former John Franklin Distinguished Chair for Geriatrics, Director of the Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine.