For so many of us isolated in our homes, the fight at the Covid-19 frontlines remains a mystery. We're unaware of the energy and sacrifice the medical staff devote to combating the pandemic as well as all the suffering it has demanded from the ill.
Go Nakamura, however, is here to give us a better understanding of the situation. The Houston-based photojournalist who relocated to Texas just over a year ago has visited the United Memorial Medical Center more than 20 times since May, documenting everything that goes on in the COVID ward.
As the coronavirus death toll in the United States on Monday surpassed 300,000 people, let's hope that these images will raise our collective sense of responsibility and remind us to do everything in our power to stay safe.
Nov. 26. Dr Joseph Varon Comforts A Patient With Coronavirus Disease. I Am Grateful To Witness A Wonderful Moment And I Thank All The Medical Staffs For Their Hard Work Even During The Holiday Season
"In the Covid unit, they usually have 20 beds. The first time I visited, the beds were almost full, and then as I went back over the summer, they expanded the ward so that by now, it's about 30 beds," Nakamura told BuzzFeed.
The photographer has to be fully covered in personal protective equipment before he starts shooting inside the Covid ward, and there are a few rules he has to follow too. For example, Nakamura cannot take pictures of things that would identify the patient. "When I go into the Covid ward with the doctor, he asks the patient for me if I can come in with him. Many of the patients are unconscious, but those who are conscious will say no or yes. Those who say no, I wait outside. For those that say yes, I have been strictly instructed that I should not take a picture of the faces of the patients, so every time I take a picture, I hide their faces behind the devices, IV pumps or electrocardiograms. I think if I could just show the faces of the patients, it would be a much stronger photo and much easier for me to frame. So it is a challenge."
A Medical Staff Member Rests In Front Of A Fan In The Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit On June 30 In Houston
When Nakamura is in the Covid ward, he feels his adrenaline pumping but he must hold it together and focus on shooting. When he gets out of the hospital and looks at the pictures on the computer screen, that's when it all really hits me so hard.
"I have access to trauma resources through Getty, and the doctors and nurses themselves have been so helpful. The very first time I went into the nurses station at the hospital, Dr. [Joseph] Varon came to the door and invited me in, and started to introduce me. The medical staff were talking and laughing with each other, and I thought this is a very good environment, a fun workplace, and five minutes later, the doctor turned to me, looked directly into my eyes with a very serious face and said we try to laugh off everything because otherwise you would go crazy."
A Medical Staff Member Grabs A Hand Of A Patient To Reposition The Bed In The Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit On Oct. 31 In Houston
Nakamura said he's doing this job because he wants people to know what is really going on inside the hospitals. "It is very rough inside. I am not a medical specialist, so I am not used to seeing the harsh stuff. Sometimes I want to cover my eyes, but I have to take the photo, and I want the people to know how others are struggling — of course the patients but also the medical workers," he said, adding that the hospital staff are exhausted.
"I think that Dr. Varon has been working for more than 260 days straight, and the nurses since the beginning of summer with no days off. They have been working so hard. If I can get the pictures out there, and I appreciate that many people can see these, I want to let them know what is happening inside, and what they can do to improve the situation."