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Hero doctor who delayed his retirement to save lives dies from coronavirus complications

Hero doctor who delayed his retirement to save lives dies from coronavirus complications

Even after he came down with a fever in mid-April, he continued helping in the fight against the pandemic by working from home and consulting with patients virtually.

Dr. James Mahoney ran headfirst into the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic when most sought shelter. Although he had more than enough reasons to sit this one out, the New York City physician chose to delay his retirement and do what he'd dedicated his life to: patient care. Mahoney, an intensive care doctor, who worked nearly 40 years in Brooklyn hospitals, passed away in late April after treating countless COVID-19 patients, and ultimately contracting the virus himself. He was 62-years-old and is survived by his three children and a legacy of mentoring young physicians of color.



 

According to The New York Post, Mahoney split his time between University Hospital of Brooklyn—where he'd worked since the start of his career—and Kings County Hospital Center. He was highly revered by the countless residents he mentored, who referred to him as "Our Jay-Z." Over the course of his illustrious career, he treated patients in the AIDS epidemic, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Hurricane Sandy. Although he was nearing retirement, Mahoney told his family that he wasn’t going to sit out the coronavirus pandemic. After working closely with COVID-19 patients, he developed a fever by mid-April.



 

Even then, he continued helping in the fight against the pandemic by working from home and consulting with patients virtually. "He was still working from home, telling patients to wash their hands, even as he was getting sicker every day,” said Natasha Edwards, who works in the philanthropy department of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Unfortunately, his symptoms soon worsened and he was admitted to the University Hospital on April 20. James' 89-year-old father, Oscar Mahoney, revealed that although family members couldn't spend his final days with him due to hospital restrictions, Mahoney was surrounded by his medical family.



 

He was rushed to Tisch Hospital in Manhattan later that week when his condition deteriorated. Five of his colleagues from Brooklyn followed him in the ambulance and were by his side when he breathed his last on April 27. "Any endeavor, he went all out for it," Oscar said of his son, revealing that Mahoney followed his older brother, Melvin Mahoney, into medicine. "He put his all into it — he didn't hold back." The grieving father added that he always taught his son: "'Don’t ever be a half-stepper. Put your whole heart into it."



 

The gregarious, down-to-earth doctor who resided in Freeport, NY, lived by his father's words and was a hospital fixture best known for being an incredible mentor to young physicians of color. "As an African American medical student, meeting James during medical school was like meeting a celebrity," said Olu Akindutire, who worked with Mahoney as a resident from 2014 to 2018. He added that unlike most physicians who came across as intimidating, James "was humble and spoke to you with respect. He really made you feel like your opinion mattered. He was a true superhero to young physicians of color." 



 

In honor of Mahoney's legacy, a number of his mentees and countless others inspired by his selfless work have set up a GoFundMe scholarship campaign to help African-American students attend SUNY Downstate Medical School where James graduated from in 1986. We are raising money to support the Dr. James (Charlie) Mahoney Scholarship Fund. This fund will provide tuition support to enable a deserving and talented African American applicant to attend SUNY Downstate Medical School. Dr. Mahoney graduated from SUNY Downstate Medical School in 1986 and served this community for more than thirty years. He was an exemplary physician and a great advocate for young minority physicians. He passed away saving lives during the COVID19 pandemic. Education was important to Dr. Mahoney and this fund is a fitting tribute to his legacy of teaching and mentorship here at our institution, states the campaign. It has raised over $43k as of Thursday morning.



 

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