Hero doctor who worked 258 days straight says elderly man with COVID he cradled 'is recovering'

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,220,000 cases, including over 21,500 deaths.  (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
Dr Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Centre in Houston, Texas. (Getty)

An elderly COVID-19 patient who was pictured being consoled by a hero doctor is now recovering and due to return home in the next two days.

The picture of the man being cradled by Dr Joseph Varon at the United Memorial Medical Centre in Houston, Texas, went viral as Varon spoke of working for 258 days straight in the ward.

Varon said he did not realise the photo was being taken as he cradled the patient, who said he was missing his wife.

Speaking about seeing the elderly man, Varon told Good Morning Britain: “It’s one of those things – you’re walking in the hallway and suddenly you see this man crying, alone, feeling desperate more intensely than anyone else I've ever seen.

“And when you talk to him he tells you, ‘I want be with my wife.’”

“All of us would just go and hold the man, that's what I did. I felt so bad for him that I sat with him until he relaxed.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Dr. Joseph Varon comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,220,000 cases, including over 21,500 deaths.  (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
Dr Joseph Varon said the elderly man he comforted is now recovering and is due to go home. (Getty)
HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 16: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY)  Dr. Joseph Varon puts on his face shield before entering the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at United Memorial Medical Center on November 16, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Texas has recorded more than 1.1 million cases of the disease, with more than 20,000 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
Dr Joseph Varon puts on his face shield before entering the COVID-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Centre. (Getty)

“I could understand because I see this day in and day out and so do all the healthcare providers that work taking care of patients with COVID.”

Varon previous spoke of how COVID patients on his ward were battling both the disease and isolation and that the patient photographed eventually felt better and stopped crying.

He told CNN: "It's very difficult. You can imagine. You are inside a room where people come in in 'spacesuits' and you have no communication with anybody else, only by phone if you're lucky.

“I mean it's very difficult and when you are an elderly individual it's even more difficult because you feel that you are alone. You feel isolated."

Watch: UK approves first COVID vaccine rollout

He added: "I will go into their rooms; I will sit on their bed and chat with them because they truly need somebody to give them a hand.”

Varon, who has now worked for 258 days nonstop during the coronavirus pandemic so far, urged people to keep up with social distancing measures to help reduce hospital numbers.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Dr. Joseph Varon eats a meal in the nursing station in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,220,000 cases, including over 21,500 deaths.  (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
Dr Joseph Varon eats a meal in the nursing station in the COVID-19 intensive care unit during Thanksgiving. (Getty)
HOUSTON, TEXAS-JULY 1, 2020-Dr. Joseph Varon says he hasn't slept more than an hour an a half each night since the pandemic began. He reviews the many cases he has on the Covid-19 ward at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, where the number of hospitalizations has risen dramatically. At United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, Dr. Joseph Varon leads a team to fight the increasing number of coronavirus patients in the expanded Covid-19 ward on July 1, 2020. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Dr Joseph Varon says he hasn't slept more than an hour and a half each night since the pandemic began. (Getty)

He said: "I do this day in and day out and people are out there doing the wrong thing…

"What people need to know is that – I don't want to have to be hugging them. They need to do the basic things: keep your social distance; wear your mask; wash your hands and avoid going to places where there are a lot of people. Very simple. If people can do that health careworkers like me will be able to – hopefully – rest.”

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work