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Mount Sinai Doctors Seeing Progress, But Continue Facing Peril After 1 Year Of Fighting COVID-19

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Nearly one year after New York City became the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus crisis, Mount Sinai is now allowing cameras inside its ER and ICU for the first time.

Progress has been made, but there is continuing peril on the front lines of the COVID fight.

Video shows Dr. Umesh Gidwani fighting to save a critical COVID patient who has been at Mount Sinai Hospital for over 60 days.

"It's a desperate last ditch attempt," he said. "It's a shame. He's so young. It's terrible."

He has the somber responsibility to update the family in a video chat.

"It caused a lot of heartache, not only to the families but also to us who are taking care of the patient," Gidwani said.


In April, Gidwani recorded video diaries to share what battling COVID-19 from the front lines both looks and feels like.

In one video, he says, "There is still quite a substantial burden of illness and severity of multi-organ failure."

In another, he says, "What could we have done better? What could we have done different? Could we have saved another life?"


Joining him in the fight is Dr. Matthew Bai, a physician at the emergency department in Mount Sinai Queens.

"The things that I see in the ER are scary. I'm a little scared myself," Bai said in one video diary entry.

He also shared the emotional toll.

In a video, Bai says, "This morning when I left the house, I said goodbye to my wife and my daughter for who knows how long."

He captured the difficult decision to isolate from his family at the peak of New York's outbreak.

"Do you remember where you were mentally, emotionally as you were recording those things?" CBS News' Mola Lenghi asked.

"It's fuzzy ... I was stressed. There was times of sadness. I felt lonely," Bai said.

In another video, Bai says, "There's patients everywhere. We're trying our best to treat everyone that we can."

CBS News followed Bai on one of his shifts to see the impact fighting COVID-19 had one year later.

"Even though the numbers are down ... It's still high enough to keep all of our hospitals pretty much at like ... 95%-plus capacity," Bai said.

Bai added, "If I walk into a certain room where something really devastating happened during the peak, I still get like a little flash of, like, chills, and I can feel my heart rate going up a little bit."

"I would imagine it's almost like a trauma," Lenghi said.

"Yeah. Yeah, that's a good way to describe it," Bai said.

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

A survey conducted by Mental Health America found increasing numbers of anxiety, depression, loneliness and other mental health concerns among health care workers faced with combatting the virus.

But in a year of devastating lows, there were also highs.

After six weeks separated from his family, the Bais reunited, and in August, Bai's wife gave birth to another girl.

"In the middle of a tough day, if my wife sends me a picture like that, I'll look at it and it makes everything so much better," Bai said.

Things are looking worse back on Gidwani's floor. A desperate attempt was underway to save a young patient's life.

"This is one of the worst parts of this pandemic, how people have to die separated from their loved ones. Never alone, never alone, our nurses, our doctors are always there, always at the bedside," Gidwani said.

A year by the bedside, bearing trauma, hidden beneath layers of PPE.

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