As emotions escalated among staff and patients on a Covid-19 ward on Thanksgiving, a doctor did what many could not imagine: He embraced and comforted an elderly patient. The photo of the coronavirus patient and Dr. Joseph Varon, head of staff at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, was taken in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Dr Varon, wearing full personal protective gear, wrapped his gloved hands on the patient, the heartbreaking photo taken by Getty Images photographer Go Nakamura is seen by millions. The man buried his face in the doctor’s chest, and the two shared a moment that captured a range of emotions, from sadness to fatigue, to the compassion and tireless work of healthcare professionals who are constantly working to treat Covid-19 patients.
According to Dr Varon, the patient became emotional because he was left alone in intensive care on Thanksgiving and wanted to be with his wife. “I usually have media in our unit so people can see what’s happening. The photographer follows me and as I enter my Covid-19 unit, I see this elderly patient getting up from his bed and trying to get out of the room and crying. So I approached him and I say to him,” Why are you crying? ” She says, “I want to be with my wife. I caught her and held it. I didn’t know it was being photographed at the time. And finally she felt better and stopped crying.”
Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the #COVID19 intensive care unit during #Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center in #Houston #Texas 📸: Go Nakamura pic.twitter.com/h2Vk18cKUp
— Getty Images News (@GettyImagesNews) November 27, 2020
November 26 was the 252nd consecutive working day at the hospital for Dr Varon. He said the senior patient could not be with his wife right now. We need to complete its treatment. The cotton swabs must be negative so that we can send him later from the hospital. But it is very difficult. You can imagine. You are in a room where people are entering (wearing) spacesuits (referring to healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment or PPE). You have no communication with anyone else or by phone if you’re lucky. And when you’re an older person, it’s even more difficult because you think you are alone. You feel isolated, ”he said.
Dr Varon said he felt very sorry for the patient. “I was feeling sad just like him, and I remembered all the patients I had to do similar things. I’ll go to a room, sit and chat with them because they really need someone to help them. And my team is very good at doing this. However, we have so many patients that sometimes we cannot hold every patient or we cannot hold a patient’s hand, ”he explained.
Stating that the patient in the image is in a “much better” condition, the doctor added that they hoped he could leave the hospital before the weekend. Nakamura, who shared the photo on social media, said, “I am grateful to witness a wonderful moment and thank all the healthcare professionals for their hard work even during the holiday season.
The image also attracted great attention with people on social media. Someone called it “heartbreaking”, another “heartbreaking,” and the third said, “Yes, this year’s image and it ruined me.”
One person wrote “the true hero” and another said, “If a picture could speak a thousand words! From compassion, kindness to the doctor’s humility to what # COVID19 has done to us, this picture tells it all. We will get through this together. “Someone wrote:” The photograph is devastating but also very touching and a beautiful example of a doctor’s humanity, “another called it” a great act of love. ”