“I was crying”: the photo of an American doctor with gloves, a mask and a visor hugging an elderly patient went viral on social networks, symbolizing the desperation of the victims of the covid-19 and the compassion of healthcare workers.
The photo was taken Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, at United Memorial Hospital in Houston, Texas, by a Getty agency photographer.
The doctor Joseph Varon, the hospital’s chief of staff, told CNN Monday that he was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) when he saw a white-haired man get out of bed and try to leave the room.
“I was crying,” said Varon. “So I go up to him and ask, ‘Why is he crying?”
“And the man says, ‘I want to be with my wife.’ So I grab him and hug him, ”added the doctor, who said he did not know that he was being photographed at the time. “I felt very sorry for him. I felt very sad, just like him ”.
Varon said that hospitalization in an ICU for covid-19 is “difficult”, even more so for the elderly who feel alone and are surrounded by people in “spacesuits”.
“In fact a patient tried to escape through the window the other day. They are so isolated that they want to leave. It’s very sad, “he said.
The doctor said the old man is much better and could be discharged from the hospital before the end of the week.
“We have so many patients that sometimes we can’t hug them all, hold their hands or at least try to be more human”said Varon, who turned his 256th consecutive day of work on Monday.
“I do not know why I have not broken,” he confessed. “My nurses cry in the middle of the day.”
Varon expressed his “frustration” at the lack of compliance with basic sanitary measures to prevent the spread of the virus: the use of masks, social distance, hand washing.
“We work every day and people do everything that is wrong: they go to bars, restaurants, shopping malls, it’s crazy,” he said.
“They don’t listen and end up in my ICU. People should know that I don’t want to have to hug them, ”he added. “It is very simple, if the directives are followed,” then health personnel, like me, will be able to rest “, he pointed out.
Texas became the first state in the United States in November to exceed one million positive cases for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, accumulating more than 21,800 deaths.