And then there are the people, just scattered away, on empty streets, falling asleep, or standing by the curb. Photo
The area around 520 Bedford, where Nina Pham was cured of the deadly strain of Coronavirus that killed her while she had been working at an isolation ward in New York Presbyterian Hospital, is covered with the yellow foil wrapper, and what had been bustling commerce on Broadway at the Doctors’ Volunteer Group’s headquarters has become a cemetery of dead neon oranges and decayed plant flowers.
“It was just scary,” said psychologist Heidi Cesario, 31, who was awaiting treatment for a so-called respiratory distress syndrome after a bout of pneumonia. “Because she was a patient, she was right next to me — you could see her from your room.”
Dr. Matthew Friedman, director of the infectious disease section at Hospital for Special Surgery, where Dr. Pham also worked, had reviewed the viral sequence of the virus that emerged in early 2015 to determine when the Brooklyn woman was exposed to it and why she contracted it. But Dr. Friedman and other doctors said Thursday that the cause of the 2003 death of Dr. Pham and the 2000 death of Dr. Peter McPherson, another doctor in the unit, remained unknown and that their bodies remained sealed in the locker for fear that someone else who might still be exposed to the infection may contaminate them.
“Dr. Pham and Dr. McPherson are very anomalous,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman, an infectious disease specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery. “These kinds of events happen a couple times a year. I don’t think you’re more exposed if you work in an isolation unit than in any other environment.”