Doctor in heartbreaking photo of Covid-19 pleads with public to slow spread

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Dr Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, told CNN’s New Day on Monday that he had so far worked 256 non-stop days in the pandemic and was frustrated by the growing number of people. hospitalized.

Varon described the desperation of Covid-19 patients in his wards, who he said were struggling with isolation as well as the virus. The man he was consoling in the photo just wanted his family, the doctor said.

“Upon entering my Covid unit, I see this elderly patient is out of bed trying to get out of the room and he’s crying. So I walk over to him and say ‘why are you crying?’ and the man says, ‘I want to be with my wife,’ ”Varon said. “So, I just grabbed it, I’m holding it, I didn’t know I was pictured at the time. “

Varon said the man was finally feeling better and had stopped crying. But he said the patient would not be able to see his wife until he tested negative on his swabs and he could be released.

‘You feel isolated’

” It’s very difficult. You can imagine. You are inside a room where people come in in ‘space suits’ and you have no communication with anyone else, only by phone if you are lucky. I mean it’s very difficult and when you are a senior it is even harder because you feel lonely. You feel isolated. ”

Varon said as he held the man, he remembered all the other patients he must have consoled in the same way.

“I’ll go to their rooms; I’m going to sit on their bed and chat with them because they really need someone to give them a hand. And my staff are very good at doing it, but we have so many patients that sometimes we can’t hold every patient or grab a patient’s hand or at least try to be a little more human, ”the doctor said. . “Some of them are crying, some of them are trying to escape – we actually have someone who tried to escape through a window the other day. ”

The man in the photo may soon be able to see his wife, Varon said. His condition had improved and staff hoped he could be fired by the end of the week.

The doctor’s battle, however, continues.

“I don’t know what motivates me, I don’t know how I didn’t break down,” he said. “My nurses broke down. My nurses cry in the middle of the day because they get so sad, sometimes for situations like this. Just seeing a patient who is crying because he wants to see his family. ”

“Keep your social distances; wear your mask; Wash your hands’

Varon said he was frustrated with people doing the wrong thing as coronavirus patients continued to fill his hospital beds.

“I do this day in and day out and people do the wrong thing. People are out there in bars, restaurants, malls – it’s crazy – it’s like we work, work, work, work, work and people don’t listen and then they end up in my intensive care unit, ”he says.

“What people need to know is – I don’t want to have to hug them. They need to do the basic things: keep your social distance; wear your mask; wash your hands and avoid going to places where there are a lot of people. Very simple. If people can do this, healthcare workers like me can – I hope, rest. ”

Varon said he tries to be transparent to the media so the public can see the reality of the situation in his hospital and gave Getty photographer Go Nakamura access to his Covid-19 department , which made it possible to capture the image of him. .

READ: This doctor just suffered the deadliest week of his career

Worsening of the crisis

Nakamura posted the photo on his Facebook account with the caption: “On November 26, Dr Joseph Varon comforts a coronavirus patient. I am grateful to witness a wonderful time and thank all of the medical staff for their hard work, even during the holiday season. Photographed for @gettyimages covidera #photojournalism »

Other photos from the hospital posted on Nakamura’s feed show masked medical workers treating patients or resting, apparently exhausted.

Varon also spoke to CNN’s New Day on November 25, warning that the crisis was worsening.

“In recent days, we have had a steady increase in the number of cases. There is no doubt that patients arrive at the hospital – they arrive sicker. And they come in sicker because they wait longer to come to the hospital, they are tired of the corona, they have what I call “corona fatigue syndrome”. Everyone is tired of Corona, so they wait, they wait longer, ”he said then.

“Sadly, my concerns for the next six to 12 weeks are that if we don’t do things right, America is going to see the darkest day in modern American medical history. ”

Varon said his hospital had opened two new wings to prepare for an expected influx of patients after Thanksgiving as the never-ending cycle of the pandemic continued.

“It takes a huge price. Not only for me, but also for my healthcare professionals who work with me. My nurses, in the middle of the day they will start to cry because you know they get so many patients and it’s never… End of story. When they finally finish bringing in a patient, they get a phone call from the emergency room to let them know that another patient is admitted, ”he said.

Some 96,039 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized across the United States on Monday evening, according to the Covid Tracking Project and the virus toll continues to climb. Johns Hopkins University reported 157,901 new cases and 1,172 deaths on Monday, bringing the US total to more than 13,500,000 cases and at least 268,045 lives lost to Covid-19.

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