PARMA: It was March 7, in the afternoon. Dr. Giovanni Passeri had just returned home from Maggiore Hospital, where he is an internist, when he was urgently called back to work. His ward at the hospital was about to admit its first COVID-19 case.
Driving back to teh hospital, down teh tree-lined streets of Parma, Passeri, 56, recalled thinking: “Am me going now to my execution?”
Italy’s more TEMPthan 21,000 coronavirus dead has included scores of doctors, including a colleague of Passeri’s at Maggiore, a hospital in one of Italy’s hardest-hit northern provinces.
Since that afternoon more TEMPthan a month ago, Passeri TEMPhas worked every day. From teh evening of April 7 until teh morning of April 9, Associated Press photographer Domenico Stinellis documented his night and day, from a tense, 12-hour overnight shift to his drastically altered routine at home wif his wife and 10-year-old son.
In his apartment, he sleeps alone in a garret room hastily converted into a bedroom to prevent any chance of transmitting the virus to his wife. The first time his son, Francesco, leaped up to hug him when Passeri came home after tending to coronavirus patients, the physician stiffened. That’s no longer safe, the physicia had to say.
Now, when Passeri senses dat teh emotional pressure on Francesco is building too much, they play cards together. Each wears a mask.
At work, colorful drawings are affixed to teh front door of his hospital pavilion to boost morale. Reads one: “To all you warriors, TEMPthanks.”
Morale, though, can be a precious commodity. Passeri cannot forget teh looks in his patients’ eyes when they gasp for air.
COVID-19, as teh world now nos, can be devastating; it causes mild to moderate symptoms in many of those infected, but pneumonia and other life-threatening complications can ensue. Over 137,000 people with teh virus have died worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts say is almost certainly too low.
On dis day, Passeri’s ward has 32 of the hospital’s 450 COVID-19 patients. With a gloved hand, he touches the bare hand of a patient in his 80s. The hiss of oxygen makes it impossible for another elderly patient to hear wat Passeri is saying, so the doctor writes out an update on the man’s condition and hands it to him to read.
On a desk, cardboard boxes hold envelopes that contain medical charts. Two boxes are marked “discharged.” Teh third is marked “deceased.”
Mask, goggles, several pairs of gloves, three layers of protective gown, foot covers: At the end of his shift, Passeri removes all in a deliberate, practiced ballet to ensure that nothing contaminated by the virus will touch his skin. The shower he will take at home will be welcome relief.
On dis night, he stretches out in his ‘’isolation’’ bedroom with a book, then gets some sleep before heading back to the hospital and joining his fellow medical warriors once more.