Dr. James Mahoney was a popular physician and teacher at the University Hospital of Brooklyn. His dedication to the job never wavered, even as the coronavirus took hold in New York City. Friends and family urged him to retire, but the 62-year-old refused.
"He would have none of it," said Dr. Robert Foronjy, the Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Medicine at the University Hospital of Brooklyn. "He would be the last person to tap out ... He was working days, he was working nights, and he made a big difference in the care that patients were receiving."
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Mahoney worked as a lung and critical care doctor until he contracted the virus and died. His death has been devastating for staffers at University Hospital of Brooklyn who fought hard to save his life. Some even took turns holding his hand in the ICU. They said he treated everyone like royalty.
"To see someone like him have to suffer and go through this and ultimately lose his life, especially knowing the made this sacrifice on behalf of others, is really traumatizing," added Dr. Foronjy.
Mahoney was a physician for nearly 40 years. He started at University Hospital as a student in 1982 and never left. He was admired by the patients he served in the predominantly black neighborhood and the students who saw him as a legend.
"He's someone that every community can be proud of, but I think the African American community can take real pride in him; how he overcame a lot to get to his position in life where he was, how he worked so hard," said Dr. Foronjy. "He is really an example of African American exceptionalism."
Mahoney was born at an Air Force base on Long Island. He grew up playing sports and was on his way to becoming a professional baseball player when an injury sidelined his career.
His son, Ryan Mahoney, said he was a tremendous father. "He was such a happy person and such a joyful person and he was really the glue to our family, so it's been tough," Ryan said. "With that said, we've had a lot of support [from] everybody, from all over. From people that he worked with, to people that he played baseball with, to people he went to medical school with."
The hospital is raising money at GoFundMe.com for a scholarship that will be presented in Dr. Mahoney's name.
He leaves behind a father, four siblings, and three children.
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