Health care workers are responding to the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic with professionalism and courage. Doctors and nurses have been, by far, the faces seen on nightly news videos or the voices quoted in news articles. Yet many other workers are involved in patient care and make it possible for hospital ecosystems to function properly — janitors, transport specialists, baristas, administrative clerks, dietitians, and more. They, however, tend to be invisible to the world outside of hospitals doors.

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to unfold, I noticed that people in the hospital where I work were generally worried. I noticed it in physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals doing direct patient care, but I also saw it in the barista who made my coffee most days. In the cleaning staff who took such great care sanitizing patient rooms, call rooms, and common areas. In the transport specialists who moved patients from one part of the hospital to the other.

As I made my rounds in the hospital, I asked people how they were feeling about the pandemic and how they were coping with it. And I realized — far too late — that these individuals are as much frontline workers as clinicians and are exposing themselves to the same risk for infection by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, even if sometimes a bit more indirectly. But unlike nurses and doctors, they tend to be poorly paid, lack job security, don’t receive hazard pay, and, as you can see in the photos below, are often from minority groups.

To recognize these unsung heroes, I began asking them if I could take photographs of them and post them, along with quotes, on my Twitter feed.

I did this because I wanted everyone to be able to see the workers who are essential to the fight against Covid-19 but who tend to go unrecognized for their efforts. They remind me — and I hope they remind you, too — that we are all in this together and that we are stronger when we value everyone’s contributions to this devastating pandemic.

Gray Moonen, M.D., is a first-year resident in family medicine at the University of Toronto.

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“I was hearing from nurses that their ears were hurting from wearing masks all day, so I’m making these caps! They’ve got little buttons on the sides for the straps, which make it a lot more comfortable”

Eva, Nurse Practitioner

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“If it happens to me it happens, that’s just how I feel about it. I try not to focus on the negative. Other than that, I’m bored as hell! It’s so dead here …”

Mel, barista at hospital cafe

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“We’re often forgotten members of the acute care team, but these Covid-19 patients in the hospital and ICU — they can’t eat. We manage all of their nutrition and work very hard to keep them alive.”

Linda, dietitian

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“Young man, I’m a faith-believing person … keep the faith and this virus will soon be over.”

Carmen, Information Desk and Medical Records

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“I’m not used to wearing a mask all day, so I can’t stop touching my face. I know I’m not supposed to, but my glasses don’t fit properly because of the mask … it’s a mess.”

Chantal, Administrative Assistant

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“Nerves are starting to get to people, I won’t lie, but we are being more cautious. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 for the guys … we are still employed and make money, but are a bit worried to be here.”

Manrique, construction at the hospital

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“We all have young children and figuring out what to do with kids … I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. We are all in the same boat more or less.”

Katarina, Team Leader on a Nursing Floor, She worked through SARS.

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“In a code situation … how fast can you respond to a heart not beating? If it takes me six minutes to get to a locked-up N95 … that person isn’t going to do very well.”

Becky, Emergency Department nurse

#FacesFightingCOVID
Gray Moonen

“I’m as concerned as everyone is, but I’m taking the necessary precautions. So I’m good … we’re good. I mean, it’s a few hours of my day, so I figure why not. Anything I can do to help.”

Nicole, volunteer screener. She asks people if they are symptomatic upon entering the hospital and ensures they use hand sanitizer.

  • God watch over you all, may the Holy Spirit protect and give u all strength, the healing spirit works through you all ur gods soldiers in deed! ♥️♥️♥️

  • PRAYERS for the *Sick and *Their Nurses & *The Sick Nurses… …*God Bless You All!!!

  • As we endure the most unprecedented time of our lives, your article made my heart ache, as I thought about the lives these individuals touched – the patients in the hospital and their family members and significant others, as well as each others lives as hospital employees and within their own personal families. They are to be commended as brave, committed and compassionate individuals. As I ended the article, I paused. I realized that a medical social worker nor a social work or nurse case manager was pictured. Not pictured was a professional social worker who functions as a member of critical health care teams, who is charged with ensuring that discharge plans are coordinated and actualized; a social worker who works in the ER unit with the other members of emergency care teams; a social worker who finds a space for emotional support of other team members, in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. My observation is this: Though not often mentioned or highlighted, social workers’ living forward, executing historical roles and current functions in support of patients – while in an emergency unit, hospitalized or facing discharge from hospital settings – are critical team members, as well. If I have missed your highlight of social workers in a previous article, I thank you for taking the time to do so. If you have not, it is hoped that moving forth in this series, the often unmentioned team member – the medical/hospital social worker will be given the opportunity to share and will have the time to do so. Much Peace to Us All.

  • THANK YOU and thank God for these ‘BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE PEOPLE’. I am at a loss for words….just again, THANK YOU!!

  • These are really heroic times. I know that 1st year medical students in USA and at least in Spain are working shoulder to shoulder with their elder professionals at all levels. did the same in Monterrey, Mexico at the Red Cross Hospital and learned a lot and a lot of practice until I graduated. But what these students and everybody going through is out of this world. Never seeing it before by nobody ( unless you are > than 102 years old ). Whenever this pandemia is over they will remember very proudly of themselves their sacrifice, like soldiers defending their countries

  • Respiratory Therapists need to be recognized. They work exclusively with patients having lung problems and are essential to the medical team that intubates and manages respirators for critically ill patients. You can’t get any more “front lines” than that.

  • Beautiful photos of courageous and VERY loving people.
    Thank you so much for giving all these amazing health care and support people a face for us to see.
    We’ll be okay. xoxo Kate

  • Super article, never enough recognition or appreciation for all the staff at the hospitals, especially the non-medical workers.

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