Doctor who put off retirement to treat coronavirus patients dies of COVID-19

A New York doctor made the ultimate sacrifice after he delayed his retirement to treat low-income coronavirus patients and later died of the virus.

Dr. James Mahoney, a physician at University Hospital of Brooklyn and Kings County Hospital Center, died of COVID-19 in late April, the New York Times reported.

His family encouraged him to step away from his work when it became apparent how serious the virus was. Their family cruise in January was meant to mark his upcoming retirement, Mahoney’s sister, Saundra Chisolm, told the Guardian.

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But without hesitation, his plans were put on hold to help during the pandemic.

“There were people who were really reluctant to go into the rooms, and you could understand why,” Dr. Robert Foronjy, Mahoney’s boss, told the Times. “He saw another human being in need, and he didn’t hesitate to help.”

Mahoney treated patients day and night, either in person or via telecounselling. In the second week of April, the Times reports, he came down with a fever. By April 20, he could barely walk when he was admitted to University Hospital.

“He gave everything to that hospital. He gave his life for that hospital,” Mahoney’s older brother, Melvin, told the Washington Post. “There are two hospitals crying. Non-stop. I’ve heard men crying like you wouldn’t believe.

“That’s how much they loved my brother.”

Mahoney, 64, was well-loved by his patients, and he often gave out his personal cellphone number, checking in on them even while he was fighting the virus.

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“As a young Black man, I looked at this guy and said to myself, ‘Twenty years from now I want to be like him,’” Latif Salam, one of Mahoney’s previous students, told the Times. “When a Black medical student, a Black resident sees him, he sees a hero. Someone that you can be one day.

“He’s our Jay-Z.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise money for a scholarship in Mahoney’s name. The funds will be used to “provide tuition support to enable a deserving and talented African American applicant to attend SUNY Downstate Medical School.”

More than US$42,000 has been raised of the $100,000 goal.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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