Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Photo of doctor comforting elderly patient goes viral




Photo of doctor comforting elderly patient goes viral

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Dr Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas in the US. GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Photo of doctor comforting elderly patient goes viral

Joseph Varon, a doctor treating coronavirus patients at a hospital in the US state of Texas, was working his 252nd day in a row when he spotted a distraught elderly man in the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU).

Varon’s comforting embrace of the white-haired man on Thanksgiving Day was captured by a photographer for Getty Images and has gone viral around the world.

Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, told CNN he was entering the Covid ICU when he saw the elderly patient “out of his bed and trying to get out of the room”.

“And he’s crying,” Varon said. “So I get close to him and I [ask] him: ‘Why are you crying?’

“And the man says: ‘I want to be with my wife.’ So I just grab him and I hold him,” Varon said. “I was feeling very sorry for him. I was feeling very sad, just like him.”

“Eventually he felt better and he stopped crying,” Varon told CNN on November 30, which he said was his 256th consecutive day of work.

“I don’t know why I haven’t broken down,” the doctor said. “My nurses cry in the middle of the day.”

Varon said the isolation of the Covid unit was difficult for many patients, particularly the elderly.

“You can imagine,” he said. “You are inside a room where people are coming in spacesuits.

“When you are an elderly individual, it’s more difficult because you are alone,” he said.

“Some of them cry. Some of them try to escape,” he said. “We actually had somebody who tried to escape through a window the other day.”

Varon said the elderly man in the picture is “doing much better”.

“We are hoping that before the end of the week he’ll be able to get out of the hospital,” he said.

Varon also had a message for people who are not taking precautions amid the pandemic.

“People are out there in bars, restaurants, malls,” the doctor said. “It is crazy. People don’t listen and then they end up in my ICU.

“What people need to know is I don’t want to have to be hugging them.

“They need to do the basic things – keep your social distance, wear your masks, wash their hands, and avoid going to places where there are a lot of people,” he said. “If people would do that, healthcare workers like me could hopefully rest.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • One million Chinese Covid-19 jabs to start rolling in from February

    The government has confirmed that Covid-19 vaccines from China are set to begin arriving in Cambodia by February. This came as the Ministry of Health recorded two imported cases of Covid-19 on January 18. While calling on people to remain vigilant against the pandemic, ministry spokeswoman