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Emergency doctor used camera to record COVID-19 battle in Los Angeles hospital



All over the world and in the United States, there are some vivid images of the coronavirus battle. However, when the doctor who is caring for the patient is the photographer, since he understands the treatment that the caregiver and the patient are receiving, the degree of intimacy involved is higher.

Dr. Scott Kobner is the chief emergency physician at the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles County, one of the largest public health systems in the United States.

“Every day after vacations or sometimes shifts, I will stick to or come in to do this kind of work in order to try to really play a completely different role. It has nothing to do with the medical services provided, but I can use my knowledge and experience through my own experience. Come and help others see the world from this world.” Dr. Kobner told NPR.

Rachel Martin of NPR interviewed Kobner’s photography Morning edition. You can listen to the 10-minute conversation here:

Dr. Kobner is an amateur photographer. After the pandemic, he began to use Leica M6 and M10 cameras to record his illness in the emergency room. These photos were published by the Los Angeles Times this week. When people think of Leica, they think of historical images of wars, epidemics and other tragedies. Coronavirus is indeed the biggest tragedy today, and it still refuses to disappear quietly.

Photography is not my daily job. Nor is it my night work. My day and night work is emergency medicine. Becoming an emergency doctor will always be my first love. But photography followed closely behind. The more you know about the two, the more similar they are. Photography is the mentality of people to recognize and preserve transient things. The rest is just chemistry. -From Kobner’s website.

These photos are all black and white, and they look like the grimness of life and death, but they are actually capturing them. For the audience, these scenes may be gloomy, but for Dr. Kobner, what he is recording is the reality in front of him.

Dr. Kobner wrote on Instagram: “In the most vulnerable period of mankind, especially in the last moments on earth, it is a divine honor to be with mankind.”

Dr. Kobner does not want his photography to distract him from his lifesaving work in the hospital in any way, so he can only take images when he is on vacation. He also made it clear to the patients that he was not involved in their care when taking pictures. Although the hospital allows him to take pictures of the operation, he must make sure to obtain permission from each patient.

Dr. Kobner grew up in Flemington, New Jersey, and attended New York University School of Medicine. When he saw that the pandemic took full control of his hometown of New York last spring, he knew that soon after, the virus entered California and caused similar damage.

The photo that moved him the most was that of his colleague Molly Grassini, who tried and hoped that the patient would recover. At the beginning of the pandemic, a young patient experienced a cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. The team desperately tried to bring him back to life, and Dr. Grassini was looking at the monitor with hopeful eyes, just to see the heartbeat or some kind of life sign.

Dr. Molly Grassini observes the heart monitor during a pulse check, looking for the patient’s vital signs.

“I think the best thing about photography is that it has undeniable narrative authority,” said Dr. Kobner NPR. “You know, when you see a photo, you know that it is a file that records a snapshot in time, not a reimagining of something.

“This is not a picture or a painting, in which many details may be-or have to be remembered or changed… and to some extent, many misinformation, fears and conspiracy theories about medicine flourish The reason is, I think, the lack of narrative authority such as photography.”

Dr. Kobner hopes that his photos will show the public the true conditions of the hospital when it is working around the clock, and somehow save the lives that are still slipping away.

(Via NPR and LA Times)


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, Georgia.He opened one of the first digital camera courses in New York City International Center of Photography In the 90s. He was the director and teacher of Digital Days Workshops in Sony / Popular Photography magazine.You can contact him by email Here.


Picture credits: All photos of Dr. Scott Kobner are used with permission.




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