A Black doctor returns to hard-hit Louisiana after treating and contracting Covid-19 in New York
When the tumultuous history of 2020 is written, no one will argue that Joseph Gallien didn’t have a front-row seat. In March, Gallien was finishing his residency in emergency medicine in Manhattan just as the novel coronavirus was overwhelming New York City. At 31, he was making life-or-death decisions while confronting a disease for which there was no treatment, no cure, and little knowledge.
In April, Gallien came down with a cough and a fever, and knew instantly that he’d contracted the virus. When his temperature spiked a week later and he began having trouble breathing, he was admitted to one of the two hospitals where he worked, Columbia University’s NewYork-Presbyterian. He’d developed pneumonia; was showing signs of organ failure; and had lost 13 pounds. He was released five days later, only to learn that one of his attending physicians, apparently crushed by the weight of the pandemic, had taken her own life.
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