A New York City doctor who worked on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, even after he was set to retire, has died of the virus.
Dr. James Anthony Mahoney, also known as ‘Charlie’, died from the coronavirus at New York University Langone Hospital on April 27. He was 62.
Mahoney, a pulmonologist and critical care physician, was supposed to retire in January after almost four decades as a medical professional, but delayed his retirement to help New Yorkers hit by coronavirus.
Dr. James Anthony Mahoney (pictured) died of COVID-19 after working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York City
He had spent his day shifts working at University Hospital of Brooklyn, SUNY Downstate, and nights at the King County Hospital Center.
Mahoney devoted his entire career to University Hospital of Brooklyn, where he began medical school in 1982.
Both medical centers primarily serve low-income, black families.
Early studies found that black Americans were more likely to die of COVID-19 than other groups.
In New York City, 192,840 residents have been infected and at least 23,195 died from the coronavirus. The US recorded 1,606,773 cases and 94,976 deaths.
Mahoney first began feeling ill near Easter Sunday even though doctors were beginning to see the number of critically ill patients lessen, CNN reports.
Mahoney (pictured) began medical school at University Hospital of Brooklyn and continued to work there the rest of his career
Although he was supposed to retire in January, Mahoney (pictured) chose to stay on staff and help patients during the coronavirus pandemic
He checked himself into University Hospital of Brooklyn after suffering a fever and mild symptoms for a week.
Mahoney was later taken to the ICU where he directed his own medical care. He was eventually sedated and intubated.
‘He was a doctor right up until the end,’ said Dr. Robert Foronjy, the Chief of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at SUNY Downstate.
‘He was the first one on the front lines taking the onslaught. He was our backbone. He saw this as his calling.’
A group of SUNY healthcare workers transferred Mahoney to an NYU Langone Hospital where he would receive better oxygen treatment.
Soon after arriving, Mahoney succumbed to the coronavirus. His own colleagues performed chest compressions.
‘He was so gracious and humble and kind and made you feel warm visiting even when he was critically ill,’ said Vaitkus, a longtime student who visited Mahoney in the hospital.
Pictured (left to right): Jamie Mahoney, James Mahoney, Ryan Mahoney and Stephanie Mahoney
Mahoney was also a clinical assistant professor at the academic hospital university Hospital of Brooklyn, SUNY Downstate.
‘He was so humble even, the fact that he trained all of us and then he’s an ICU patient and thanked all of us for coming to visit.’
Foronjy said he’s still shocked by Mahoney’s death.
‘I couldn’t fathom losing him, and it’s still something that everyone here is still having a difficult time processing,’ he said.
‘I have literally witnessed a village of people die in the past month or two and on top of that you lose someone who was such a good human being.’
Mahoney’s family tried to convince him to step back from the front lines, given his age and the risks, but he stayed firm in his efforts.
‘He stayed there because they needed him,’ his older brother, Dr. Melvin Mahoney, told ABC News.
Melvin, who retired in 2014, said he and others pleaded with Mahoney to step back amid the pandemic because of the health risks.
Mahoney (center) pictured with his colleges at University Hospital of Brooklyn
According to his Melvin Mahoney, he and James (pictured) enjoyed traveling together and the brothers have gone on more than 50 cruises
Besides medicine, the brothers enjoyed talking about sports and traveling on cruise ships together. Melvin said they had taken more than 50 cruises together.
Michelle King, who worked with Mahoney for more than 20 years, said he even worked from home as he battled his own diagnosis.
‘Even when he was sick, he was still checking up on his patients and calling them to make sure they were OK,’ said King.
‘This is such a great loss. He had a heart of gold…everybody was VIP to him.’
James Mahoney was born in Garden City, New York, and raised by a military father who served for more than two decades.
His work ethic started at just eight-years-old with jobs at a local German deli and a laundromat while growing up on Long Island.
In high school, he excelled at both sports and academics.
He’s survived by three children: Jamie, a 31-year-old actor and musician; Stephanie, 28, a student at Howard University School of Law; and his youngest son, Ryan, 24, whose a student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Ryan Mahoney (right): ‘My dad was like my hero to me. He was a baseball player, I wanted to be a baseball player … He was a doctor, I ended up going to medical school’
Pictured: Mahoney covered in protective gear while taking care of coronavirus patients during the pandemic
‘My dad was like my hero to me. He was a baseball player, I wanted to be a baseball player … He was a doctor, I ended up going to medical school,’ Ryan told ABC News.
Ryan remembers his father being very present throughout his childhood, despite his hectic work schedule.
‘No matter how hard he worked, how long he was at the hospital, he was always there for me growing up,’ he said.
‘One day he’d be at Downstate, next night at Kings County and during the day coaching my teams and picking me up. He was always here.’
Despite his family intervening, Stephanie knew her father wouldn’t walk away when people needed help.
‘He wasn’t going to step back and he was going to try to help people, and as many people as he could,’ she said.
‘You would’ve thought he had more hours in the day than anybody.’
Hospital staff has created a GoFundMe to raise money for a scholarship fund in Mahoney’s honor
Mahoney’s 89-year-old father, Oscar, is proud of his son for working with ‘integrity’ as one of the heroes serving during the pandemic.
‘He wanted you to know that you could count on him … and he went all the way,’ said Oscar.
Oscar recalls his son, who often spoke with baseball phrases, comparing his situation to a game.
‘You don’t have to have a home run to win the game … we used what we had,’ Mahoney said, according to his father.
‘I can’t get over that,’ said Oscar.
Melvin Mahoney, whose seen the shortages in medical supplies first hand, said he’s noticed a glaring disparities between poorer medical centers and wealthier ones.
‘Those people that are out there fighting the war, you have to equip them. How can you send a soldier to fight without equipment?’ said Melvin.
A GoFundMe has been created by Foronjy and hospital staff to launch a scholarship fund in Mahoney’s honor.
As of Friday, $50,340 of the $100,000 had been donated.