Philadelphia Doctor Who Later Contracted COVID-19 Reflects On First Patients

Stephanie Stahl reports.

Video Transcript

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- Hospitals in the Philadelphia region are announcing an increase of COVID-19 patients. Medical teams have been through a horrific year and are hoping that they do not see another surge. Health reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with the story of one local doctor who became a patient too. Hi, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE STAHL: Hi, Jessica. As we hit the one-year mark since Philadelphia had its first surge of COVID-19 patients, many health care workers are reflecting on this historic year that was filled with fear, survival, and hope.

MICHAEL STEVEN: It was a very scary time.

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So there was a lot of fear. There was a lot of suffering and a lot of death.

STEPHANIE STAHL: On the front lines in the early days of the pandemic.

MICHAEL STEVEN: And we didn't know, you know, who was going to strike and how it was going to strike. You know, we haven't gone through this ever in modern medicine. And so there was a lot of stress. For the first time in our lives, there was-- there was great personal risk. And you could feel that in the hospital.

STEPHANIE STAHL: Dr. Michael Steven, a pulmonologist at Jefferson Hospital, not only treated COVID patients. He became one and had a severe case. He also spread the virus to his wife and two children.

MICHAEL STEVEN: We got the best care in the world here in Philadelphia, and so I'm very grateful for that.

STEPHANIE STAHL: He's recovered and is now a year into treating COVID patients.

MICHAEL STEVEN: We're in a much better place right now.

STEPHANIE STAHL: Dr. Steven says there were so many unknowns in the beginning, including experiments with drugs and therapies that didn't work. And the patients kept piling up.

Do you remember your first COVID patient?

MICHAEL STEVEN: And the sweetest woman in the world asking me for a cup of tea.

STEPHANIE STAHL: That patient died two weeks later.

MICHAEL STEVEN: But I'll never forget her, her need for tea, her-- you know, she remained positive in the setting of this unknown.

STEPHANIE STAHL: He witnessed a year of remarkable bravery and humanity from patients, families, and the hospital staff.

MICHAEL STEVEN: You know, I just saw such, you know, tremendous spirit, and-- and there was a lot of suffering, but there was so much positive, too.

STEPHANIE STAHL: He'd been writing a book called "Breath Taking" about lung health that now includes issues with COVID.

MICHAEL STEVEN: The vast majority of patients do recover and do very well.

STEPHANIE STAHL: And Dr. Steven says community support is so important and will hopefully help the many people who are suffering from post-traumatic stress linked to this pandemic. Yuki?

- OK, Stephanie, thank you.