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Coronavirus Taking Emotional, Physical Toll On Doctors: 'I've Never Spent So Much Time Crying'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Even though officials say the worst may be over, hospitals are continuing the fight against coronavirus.

Weeks of long hours witnessing death and sickness are taking a toll.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas takes a look at the impact on those on the front lines.

"I've never taken so much time crying in the shower. I've never taken so much time scrubbing and seeing ... did I get the back of my neck? What if it splashed?" said Dr. Julie John.


John was trained for the long hours in the Intensive Care Unit caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients. What she wasn't prepared for was the emotional toll, especially when she tested positive for the coronavirus.

"When the diagnosis came I cried and I cried and I cried," she said. "I was so scared I made a video saying goodbye to my children just in case that happened because that is our reality."

She's hardly alone. Hospitals across our region have dealt with the overwhelming volume of patients. Medical professionals face the threat the virus poses to their own safety, and they witness how COVID-19 shows no mercy to some while sparing others.

"It's crazy. The stress that it places on the respiratory therapists. The stress that it places on the institutions, on the other departments, it's alarming," said respiratory therapist Daniel Bellevue.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Another thing that's hard for me to deal with is I'm away from my family. I have three children and I haven't been near them as well. That's by choice. I don't want to bring anything home, God forbid," said ER physician Dr. Ernest Patti.

They're hardly complaints. These professionals show up for the uncertainty of every shift.

David Reich, president of Mount Sinai Hospital, is concerned about the long-term impact.

"I think there will be after effects of that. You look at the number of people who will be lost in this nation and it will be more than Vietnam," he said.

This war is one Dr. John wants to return to, after feeling guilty for being sidelined by the virus.

PHOTO GALLERY: A Look Inside NYC's Viral 'Warzone'

"I will be going back to the front line. I have a moral and ethical obligation to my profession," she said.

But she'll return with anxiety, knowing her white coat and scrubs don't mask her humanity, as she fights for her patients to have the same outcome she's had.

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