Hero doctor who delayed retirement to work on the coronavirus front lines dies
Dr. James Mahoney died in the fight of his lifetime.
Mahoney, an intensive care doctor who worked nearly 40 years in Brooklyn hospitals, was known to the residents he mentored as “Our Jay-Z.” But when the coronavirus struck, the father of three put off retirement to serve at the frontlines of the pandemic.
While treating countless patients with the virus at the height of its scourge in low-income areas of New York City, he contracted it himself. On April 27, he passed away from the disease, sources confirmed to The Post. He was 62.
“He was still working from home, telling patients to wash their hands, even as he was getting sicker every day,” Natasha Edwards, who works in the philanthropy department of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, tells The Post.
Mahoney split his time between University Hospital of Brooklyn — where he worked since the start of his career — and Kings County Hospital Center. The gregarious doctor was a hospital celebrity, perhaps best known for his mentorship to young physicians of color.
“People are still walking through the halls crying. He really was the Jay-Z of the hospital,” Edwards says.
Those he mentored — and countless others inspired by his selfless work — have started a scholarship fund to help African-American students attend SUNY Downstate Medical School, where Mahoney graduated from in 1986. By Wednesday afternoon, the fund had already raised more than $42,000.
“He was an exemplary physician and a great advocate for young minority physicians,” reads the GoFundMe, started last week by Mahoney’s boss, Dr. Robert Foronjy. “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.”
Staffers at Kings County Hospital say the loss has been especially devastating given the death of their ER’s head nurse, Maria Guia Cabillon, who died the day before Mahoney, also of the virus.
Mahoney, who treated patients in the AIDS epidemic, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Sandy, told his family he wasn’t going to sit out the coronavirus pandemic, despite being near retirement. But, mid-April, after working closely with patients with the illness, he developed a fever, Foronjy tells the New York Times.
“I was very concerned right from the beginning,” Dr. Foronjy says. “He and I knew how serious this was. We were just kind of hoping against hope.”
He began working from home, consulting with patients virtually. But his symptoms worsened. He was admitted to the University Hospital on April 20, where he was immediately surrounded by his medical family.
“He knew how much I loved him,” Foronjy says. “And he knew how much everyone here loved him. We said a lot of things that week that needed to be said.”
Later that week, he was rushed to Tisch Hospital in Manhattan. Five other doctors from Brooklyn followed him in the ambulance — and were with him when he passed away there.
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