When was the last time you in a hospital? As a patient.
Maybe it was a while ago. It's usually like this: you're in bed. The shift changes at seven in the morning. The night nurse comes in – she goes home, so make sure everything is ready for the day nurse. (You think you know what nurses are doing, but you have no idea until you spend some time in a hospital. Nurses run health care.)
Guy shuffles in to get the trash. He whips the new bag in the air and the noise is like a cracker.
Doesn't he know I'm sleeping?
You haven't slept much, what about the beepers, the whir of the infusion, the glow of the monitor logs your pulse, blood oxygen level and everything.
A woman comes in to wipe everything. The invigorating smell of the disinfectant cools your nostrils. There is something comforting – now everything is clean.
Soon the doctor will break in, followed by a phalanx of residents and companions.
You will rub your eyes.
Is breakfast here? I ordered it on the little sheet last night, as they said.
You will read your medical history and the last time you had a bowel movement. The doctor will speak out loud and you will wonder why so loud.
So many people, you will think.
When you are in the hospital, just remember to go. You are sick or injured and don't think about who these people are. There are no people with families and back pain and a packed lunch in the fridge in the hallway.
And that's okay. Nobody works in a hospital for glory. If you think about it, your vocation in life is to get you out of the hospital.
But now? In the middle of a pandemic? At this moment we are reminded that these people are heroes in this work. They have always been heroes, just as firefighters were heroes long before September 11th.
We just didn't know it.
A hero we remember is someone who puts themselves in danger of helping another person. At the moment, this means what harm means: days after the photos were taken, the disease control centers reported that between 10 and 20 percent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States were likely to be healthcare workers and 27 had died.
On April 9-10, when the COVID crisis in New York City peaked – when New York was again a zero point of a malicious attack – we sent a quarantined photographer, Benedict Evans, and his assistant Marion Great for two of the largest and most central hospitals in Manhattan: the Weill Cornell Medical Center on East 68th Street and Columbia Presbyterian on 168th Street and on Broadway. He was stationed where it was safe to set up his simple device, and we worked with the hospitals to ensure that his work did not hamper the administration of care.
In these two days, he photographed 17 remarkable people.
Oh, they're not heroes – they'll tell you that. I'm just doing their job. Well, we all just do our job. But for most of us, nobody dies in our hallway, no grandmother whistles in our arms, no father asks us to let him touch the glass that separates him from his daughter one last time before the end that he knows is Come.
If you are lucky, you will soon no longer be in a hospital. But if so, try not to get angry with the guy who takes out the trash. Or the nurse, who made the door close a little too loudly.
They only do their job.
Photographs and interviews by Benedict Evans
30, Paramedic, NewYork Presbyterian
MY POSITION IN Hospital allows me to lots of highlights to see because I see things from the street to the intensive care units. And the high point is that everyone is working together to overcome this. Every time I come to work, it's a high point because we all still show up. Paramedics, rescue workers, doctors, nurses, patients, auxiliary staff – everyone still comes to work. And that is a high point.
While I'm at home, I try to make things as normal as possible. You know, eating on a normal schedule, exercising on a normal schedule, learning as much as I would normally do. I think the best thing we can do is try to maintain a sense of normalcy as much as possible so that we can ward off feelings of fear. Because – things are different now, but they don't have to be different when we are at home.
CARA AGERSTRAND, MD  40, Pulmonologist and Intensivist, New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center
On day we had our first COVID positive patients here in New York. I was in a medical conference in My Specialty with several other colleagues, and within a few minutes all of our phones went off, and we got text messages and calls left and right. And it really hit the mark that this could be really effective here. Not just in Italy, not just in China.
When I get to work in the morning, it's probably the hardest part of the day. Because I ride a bike and look through these empty streets of New York, where people, cars, and traffic are usually deserted. And yesterday I heard "Mad World" and thought: How did we find ourselves in this situation? The streets are so empty, but the hospital is so full of so many sick people.
JAMES ZABALA, RN
37, nurse, New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center
FOR MOST part we don't do visitor to Leave hospital. Some of our patients – even if we try to do as much as possible to connect them to the family with FaceTime or talking on the phone, they are often alone in the room. That is a low point. I mean, they are not alone . Was there. The nurses are there. The doctors are there to support them in their last moments when they take their last breath. But that was the low point for me. Usually they are surrounded by a family. Here it is a little more difficult if you are the family for them.
There is this one physiotherapist at work who has this mindfulness thing that he does with all of us. Kind of like: take a moment, take a break, concentrate on your breathing. I change it. I like music very much. So I turn on my favorite track for that day and focus on one thing, like highs or lows – I focus on that rhythm, like boom, boom, boom . I turn everything else off. Like the lyrics – all the rest of the song. And it takes me out of my situation for so long – a minute or two. I take my 30 seconds or 20 seconds or a minute and it usually does me good.
MARIE-LAURE ROMNEY, MD
40, Emergency Physician, New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center
The Severity of The situation hit me really when I went to one of our hospitals, one of the EDs [emergency departments] and it was unrecognizable. It felt like I went to an intensive care unit and not to the emergency room I had worked in for the past 18 months. I think I was mostly impressed with how sick all of the patients were, but also that they were all alone without a family. It was a really challenging moment, a very dark moment.
We are talking about the silver lining throughout this crisis. The time that I can spend with my children and my husband, who otherwise would have so busy schedules that we don't overlap often, but they are reliably at home when I get home from work – that somehow allows me to escape and pause to think about all the terrible things we see at work. I find that really rejuvenating.
WALLACE CARTER, MD
64, Emergency Physician, NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine
ONCE WE STARTED When we got the reports from the West Coast and taking stock of where we were here at NYP and what we had to do to prepare for it, it became brutally real and unbelievable … I think it is When we all realized that we might encounter something that we had never seen before.
I signed up for it. That's what I like to do. I was one of the earliest paramedics in New York City in 1977 and went through almost every catastrophe in New York City: both events in the World Trade Center, plane crashes, the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the 80s. What moves me, what inspires me, is to come to work every day and realize that we can make a difference and that my stay here is important for the facility, the patients, our colleagues, the residents. I make a difference. That inspires me.
28, environmental worker, New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital
My manager called me at and asked if I was going to I have a problem going into these rooms. I said, "No, I have no problem. As long as I have the right PPE and the right equipment to go into rooms, I wouldn't mind going inside. "If it were me in this bed, I would like people to come in and do the cleaning for me. That's what we are here for. Make sure everything is clean and organized so the doctors and nurses can do their jobs. So she just asked me: Can you go into this room? I say, "Of course I can." It all started. Since this morning we only work without stopping.
AYA ISLAMOVA, RN
35, clinical nurse, New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center
We knew that was going to happen, but we are not prepared for this moment at work and we have an emergency meeting with our manager. We stopped what we did and it was announced that our unit would be a COVID positive unit. It was a very scary moment hl, that I want to leave the place and go to my loved ones back home. But obviously you can't because you have patients to take care of, you have five or six patients at the same time.
We were taught about our self-sufficiency, which means staying healthy. Not just physically – mentally, mentally. They try to take these short breaks, leave the ground, moisturize and eat well. But sometimes in real life it doesn't happen because you are so busy and you realize that it is 5:00 p.m. and you haven't had a break yet You didn't go to the bathroom.
GREGG ROSNER, MD
40, cardiologist and cardiologist, New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center
I think about in this first one Week I became deaf. To do this job, you have to be able to sort of separate the suffering of the patient, the family, to continue your job. I tend to be mission-oriented. And the mission is: come in, take care of the patients, do everything to make them better. I'm not trying to think about it much anymore.
I have never heard the word no in the past four weeks, and this is not typical of a large institution. Everyone just takes the mission seriously. And for me you see the best in humanity in these crises. We distance ourselves socially, but in many ways – I know more nurse names now; The nurses swim in and out of units that they never work on. I work more closely with other doctors and other areas than ever before. And so in many ways I feel more connected to people at work than less connected.
KENNETH MALLEY-FARRELL, RN
46, neuro-intensive nurse at the nursing unit, New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center
Yesterday and on Day before and the day before and the day before – they all just merge into one at this point. This is my 28th day in a row. You come in every day and it's just a new crisis. Or it is almost always a new crisis. We only try to deal with them as quickly and professionally as possible. I think when I get to work I always hope that this patient will be extubated today. Or this patient, whose laboratories are only supposed to look a little better today. And it is very slow. It is not something we have ever seen. These patients stay sick much longer than we are used to. So the hope is that there will be improvement every day.
I was always frustrated with my father who died 16 years ago because he was doing more and more for people and was not getting the gratitude he deserved. And he did it for people who sometimes just didn't deserve it. And I asked him why he did it. And his answer was always the same. It was: "Because you should." And that's what keeps me going.
TRUDI CLOYD, MD
35, emergency physician, New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center
I ACTUALLY WAS was one of the people that tested positive and I was pretty sick at home for about 12 days. I did it and now I'm back to work. I was really excited to get back in there. But a lot has changed in these 12 days. I went back and went around and every single person in every room was in a hood or on a non-rebreather, and it was so scary. It was like being in an alternate universe. In a normal 12-hour shift, one or two of these patients may come through the emergency room. And so that it was every single patient sometimes even two per room, it was like: What happened? In 12 days the world had turned upside down.
As someone who has recovered from this disease, I really enjoyed talking to the patients about their symptoms and experiences because I feel like I can really identify with what they are experiencing. It was a very scary experience for me too. You cannot breathe . You are very dazed. You feel like you are going to pass out. You have a fever that doesn't go away for days. I understand what they're going through. I understand why they are afraid. And I try to calm them down because if their oxygen saturation is OK, they are OK and don't need to be approved. But that doesn't minimize the symptoms and anxiety they have.
I am originally from the south. I feel like I have different general friendliness and friendliness standards on the street than I usually do in New York City. But I got so many notes from neighbors under my door! I was asked what recipes they could pick up for me. I had people who got groceries. I had colleagues who came over and asked to take my laundry because I couldn't do my laundry for two weeks. And it was easy – it was amazing. It was the kind of thing New York shows up in that totally surprises you. Because when real challenges come, people really come together.
ALEXANDER FORTENKO, MD, MPH
33, Emergency Physician, NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine
WE WERE GEARING maybe a month before that Really hit things. But I remember working overnight about three weeks ago – I came in, there was chaos in the bay, several critically ill patients at the same time, really for the first time in our hospital during this pandemic. And we knew that there was something different that night. We knew that things had changed, that things had changed. I remember walking out of the hospital and calling my wife the morning after the shift ended. I remember talking on the phone with her and saying, "I think it's here now."
As an emergency doctor, I'm at the forefront, but we also have to think of all the other people who care about these patients To take care of. So the nurses, the PAs, the nurses, the technicians, the caretakers who go in and then clean the rooms. I was fairly certain that they would spend more time with these patients and in the rooms than I did, introducing infusions that comforted patients and made sure that they were sedated when on a ventilator. And so I feared for her. I was not really afraid for myself. But I have an uncanny feeling every time I go to work. I used to really love my job very much, and now I still love my job, but now I feel something I have never felt before, which is a feeling of worry and fear when I go to work.
RAHUL SHARMA, MD
45, chief physician, NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine
Yesterday, WHAT WAS am I think how will we deal with it tomorrow? What do we do differently? How are we going to prepare? Keep an eye on the news to see where the numbers are. When do we go to the plateau? How many deaths will occur tomorrow compared to today? It's like this every day: How many patients need ventilators? How are we doing overall, not just in New York but across the country?
What inspires me is the specialty of emergency medicine. We went into this specialty to deal with disasters, to deal with chaos, to deal with such pandemics. But that's real life now. It is inspiring to see how all the frontline staff get together, as I have seen camaraderie. It's inspiring to clap in New York City every night at 7:00 p.m. The food and donations we got from everyone, the generosity – all of that inspired me and actually gets me through the day.
DIANA BRICKMAN, RN  32, intensive care nurse, New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center
What was going on I thought yesterday when I was on on the way to work was fear. It was one of the first times in two and a half years that I was back in bed. I am now in a training role and was afraid that I had lost my skills. Fortunately, I didn't do that, but there was fear. And there was fear of catching it. You know, I'm worried about myself. I'm worried about bringing it home to my family. But there is trust, too, and when I got in here, I knew I had a job to do and the patients depended on me to take care of them, and even though I wasn't in the COVID department, I was there the other together patients who are even more afraid and need surgery and I had to be there for them. So I became confident.
ANDREW AMARANTO, MD
42, Emergency Physician, New York Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital
I clearly remember I went over to work in New Jersey the george washington bridge. It was March 1st and I received a call from an infectious disease in the hospital that we had cases of so-called "community-acquired COVID", which means that these are not travelers, but people from the community. I have a vision of driving across the George Washington Bridge, looking at Manhattan, and thinking about what it would mean to have a community-acquired illness in a congested city like New York, and from that day on, life was literally not the same anymore.
It is an interesting situation for us because my wife is sick and I am so exposed. Our six-year-old lives with my in-laws and I see him when we go for a walk or two a day. He will come out of the house and – we keep our distance – he brings the dog and we take these long walks. Sometimes we go at night after I get home, it's late – and my son invented shadow hugs where we stand so that the street lights hit us just right. We get our shadows to hug and give high fives. It's the best five minutes of my day.
29, respiratory therapist, New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center
I hope that people will learn to take better care of them to take care of. They know that this COVID virus affects many different people, even people with no known medical history or current comorbidities. But people who have had a medical history in the past – high blood pressure, diabetes, smokers – are really affected, some even until death. I just hope that after all that, people will learn to take better care of themselves. Stay healthy, exercise, eat well and appreciate and take care of your body. Because we only get one life, one body, and if we don't take care of it and something like that ever happens again, a lot more people won't make it.
CHRIS REISIG, MD
38, chief physician for emergency medicine, Irving Medical Center at New York's Presbyterian / Columbia University & Weill Cornell Medical Center
I & # 39; M A LITTLE scared when I go to work. You know, I think your nerves will go to you if you don't do anything. But I found that for the most part, when I get to work – a familiar place, a place I've been in for years, it's the people I know, it's the same things that I've all done have day before. And the longer I do the shift, the more relaxed I am just because I'm familiar with it. But this clock is also reset every day.
The work is usually pretty much non-stop. You breathe deeply at the beginning of 12 hours and exhale 12 hours later. Outside of work, I'm very happy to have a family who stayed with me in the city. In my life outside of work, I charge as much as possible to only be with my wife and children. But each shift lasts 12 hours, almost without a break.
58, Head of the Microbiology Laboratory, NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center IS WHAT I was trained to do so. I've spent more than 30 years doing this job. And you learn at school and you learn in security training that you have to be ready for an event like this. And you always have it in mind, but you never really think it will actually happen. But if so, go straight to the workout you had. I feel good that I was properly trained and that I could do my best in this situation.
I have moments when I duck into a bathroom to pray. Sometimes.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH PHOTOGRAPHER BENEDICT EVANS
EVERYTHING HAPPENED VERY quickly . I received the call three days before shooting started, and during that time I went on two separate explorations to find areas around the hospital that were safe but not in the way. We had a crew of one – it was me and my assistant. The night before we started shooting, my heart was beating pretty fast. When we got involved, it was probably less risky than going shopping in New York right now. The last thing these people want is another patient in the hospital, so they take protection very seriously.
Being among these people was emotional. Many of them had just been through long shifts – a few of them looked like they were going to tip over in front of me. But we didn't want to gloss it over. We wanted to show them what they looked and felt like.
I hope that people take out of this portfolio that these healthcare workers are heroes, but they're also normal people. They have no superpowers that allow them to continue with it. That's why I switched everyone on and off with their masks and PPE. On the one hand, if you cover up someone's face, you lose part of humanity. On the other hand, I cannot imagine the horror of those who die from COVID-19 – whose only human contact in the past few days and hours has been with people whose faces are covered.