Hospitalist creates photographic tribute to providers on the frontline of COVID-19

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Via Christi Hospitalist is using his hobby and his free time to capture the rawness happening behind the scenes.

Since completing his residency three years ago, Daniel DeJong, MD, has been a member of the Sound Physicians hospitalist group that oversees the care of hospitalized patients at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Teresa.

That work, along with his other roles as husband and father to two and soon-to-be three young children, keeps him extremely busy, particularly since COVID-19 has driven up the numbers of patients in the hospital.

Despite that, he could not help but notice and appreciate the contributions of his physician and mid-level teammates, particularly infectious disease specialists, Maggie Hagan, MD, and Maha Assi, MD, along with the pulmonologists who have been serving in the COVID-19 units for nearly a year.

“I don’t understand how they are able to do it,” said Dr. DeJong, whose work in the units has been in three-month rotations. “It’s all-consuming. They’re seeing the sickest of the sick.”

It was out of that admiration that he decided to put another one of his talents as a self-taught amateur photographer to create a tribute to their work.

Initially, Dr. DeJong created black-and-white portraits of his colleagues, which he shared with his subjects and on social media. He has now begun adding nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, housekeepers, and others serving on the COVID-19 units at St. Francis.

“I do think you can see those smiles; I do think you can see determination, you can see fatigue and things to but I haven’t seen anybody who’s just defeated, there’s always strength to keep going,” said Dr. DeJong.

While the most frequent subjects of his photos are his 4-year-old son, Liam, and 2-year-old daughter, Aria, he says he’s taking the portraits as a thank you to his teammates in care for their contributions during the time of COVID-19.

“It’s a different world right now,” said Dr. DeJong, one he says he hopes to capture with the lens of his camera. 

He has done that and more, said Dr. Hagan. “He’s a very talented photographer and the photos are all of very high quality. While you can’t recognize many of us behind our PPE, his photos allow the community to get a glimpse of what our world has been like for the past 10 months.”

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