Hopeful, Proud, Tired: How Frontline Workers Feel Fighting the COVID-19 Crisis

doctors and nurses and new york hospital portfolio
Benedict Evans

Last month, at the height of New York City's COVID crisis, photographer Benedict Evans and his assistant, Marion Grand, visited two of the biggest hospitals in Manhattan, Weill Cornell Medical Center and Columbia Presbyterian, to photograph 17 of the healthcare heroes working tirelessly to fight this pandemic. On behalf of Marie Claire, Evans asked each of them to share a word that encapsulated what they were feeling in that moment.

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Hopeful
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

MARIE-LAURE ROMNEY, M.D.
40, emergency-medicine physician
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

I'm hopeful that going forward, things are going to get better. And the amount of pain and suffering that we've seen over these past few weeks will diminish.

Engaged
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Benedict Evans

ANDREW AMARANTO, M.D.
42, emergency-medicine physician
NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital

I feel engaged in the work. This is a 24/7 fight for us. If we're not working clinically, we're planning on policies and protocols and treatment guidelines for the coming days. We're trying to get the staff what they need. It's an engagement on a clinical level, on an administrative level, on a personal level. So I guess that would probably be the word that I'd have to use. Unfortunately, it feels like it's every waking hour, and even some of my dreams are engaged, but I think that probably sums it up.

Privileged
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CARA AGERSTRAND, M.D.
40, pulmonologist and intensivist
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

I feel very lucky to be able to use the skills that I have, the years of education and training and hard work, to take care of New York and take care of our country.

Hopeful
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

CARLOS POLANIA
29, respiratory therapist
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

I'm feeling a little hopeful. It took a while ever since all this started for us to see some progress and see patients become healthy enough to breathe on their own again. So now we're seeing several of them every day. So it's very rewarding, but it's also very hopeful. So, I will say that right now I'm feeling hopeful that that the outcome will be better than what's been in the past couple weeks. This is gonna pass and a lot of people are gonna make it and I'm looking forward to that. Just looking forward to all this being over and life going back to normal.

Brave
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EUGENIO MESA
28, environmental-services worker
NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital

I feel like that word describes me. Brave. Because not just me but also my coworkers. The few of us that are going inside these rooms. I feel like we're brave. We're not scared to do anything that we wouldn't want to do. We are brave.

Hopeful
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

DIANA BRICKMAN, R.N.
32, critical-care nurse
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

I feel hopeful because of the teamwork and support and to see patients progressing. In the line of work we're in, there's always ups and downs. There's people who do really well and others who don't, and I'm hopeful that many will continue to do well and that there will be an end soon.

Proud
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Benedict Evans

WALLACE CARTER, M.D.
64, emergency-medicine physician
NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine

I'm proud. I mean, even though our colleagues in other parts of the city are struggling, and taking them out on the chin, I am incredibly proud of how the healthcare system has responded to this. You know, it's not just the doctors, not just the nurses, the folks that do environmental services. They empty the garbage cans 10 times a day. A patient leaves the room, they're in there cleaning. The materials folks are stocking us left, right, and center. I think the healthcare system in New York City, it was incredible. And I'm proud, I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the team I work with. I'm proud of our residents. I'm proud of everybody who comes to walk into the doors of this hospital. You know, the old saying, when bad things happen, most people run away. If you're in health care, you're running towards the problem and having them on the team is incredibly powerful and proud and makes me want to come to work every day

Grateful
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AYA ISLAMOVA, R.N.
35, clinical nurse
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

I'm grateful.

Hopeful
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

KATHY FAUNTLEROY
58, microbiology-laboratory supervisor
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

I'm hopeful that we are not the same people that we were before this happened. That we are stronger. That we look out for each other. And that we still come together for just small things, daily things, not big events like this, but everything. That people are kind to each other.

Thankful
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RAHUL SHARMA, M.D.
45, emergency physician-in-chief
NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine

Thankful is something that I feel. I'm thankful for the friends and family at work. The fact that my family and friends are healthy, and I'm just thankful for the fact that everyone has come together to make sure we get through this.

NYP Strong!
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

JAMES ZABALA, R.N.
37, staff nurse
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NYP Strong!

Thankful
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

CHRIS REISIG, M.D.
38, emergency-medicine chief resident
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center & Weill Cornell Medical Center

I am thankful, ultimately very thankful for the supportive friends and family. I think people are recognizing what it means to do this job every day. And I'm very thankful for all the people who let us do this job, especially our families, but just you know, the guy who sells the coffee on the corner and helps you get through the day. And for all the other people out there, the other healthcare workers who are working in as bad or worse situations for what they're doing too.

Tired
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KENNETH MALLEY-FARRELL, R.N.
46, neuro-intensive-care-unit nurse
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

I'm tired. I'm tired. But I'm hopeful.

new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

TRUDI CLOYD, M.D.
35, emergency-medicine physician
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

The really touching part of this whole thing has been the outpouring of support that a lot of us have felt as healthcare workers. It's funny. All of us, especially in the emergency department, I think we've heard from almost like any contact we've had in our entire lives have sent us messages. And you know, 20-30 years since I feel like I've spoken to some of these people. And they're touching in and they're asking what they can do.

[Editor's note: Dr. Cloyd did not share just one word to describe her feelings.]

Hopeful
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

ALEXANDER FORTENKO, M.D., M.P.H.
33, emergency-medicine physician
NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine


I'm feeling pretty hopeful. I'm feeling hopeful. You know, we hear of some good news happening in our city. We hear of other states that have taken action early, and they're having relatively significant success with the measures that they've taken. And so I'm hopeful that we can get through this. I'm hopeful that we can move on. I'm hopeful that we can return to a sense of somewhat normalcy in the near future. I'm hopeful.

Proud
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
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JOSEPH GALIZIA
30, critical-care paramedic
NewYork-Presbyterian

The word that I would use to describe how I'm feeling right now is proud. I'm proud of where I am. I'm proud to be helping in the way that I am. And I really wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here.

Tired
new york doctors and healthcare heroes portfolio
Benedict Evans

GREGG ROSNER, M.D.
40, cardiologist and cardiac intensivist
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

I would just say that I'm inspired by people that typically don't get accolades. As a doctor as an attending, as a leader, I'm used to some degree of respect and acknowledgement. But I'm not really the person that makes all of this at the hospital happen. It's the people at the bedside. It's the people who get the beds. It's the people that move the patients. It's the security. It's the environmental services. It's everyone other than me, and that's inspiring.

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