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Your Stories: Coronavirus

In our 2020 issues, we invited you to share your stories of life during the coronavirus pandemic. How have you pitched in to help your community during this pandemic? Whether harrowing, heartwarming, or hilarious, we want to hear what this topsy-turvy time has looked like from your perch.

Join this ongoing story by posting yours to social media with #umassmagazine—we’ll continue to share selections here. We hope you’ll participate in this community effort and reflect on the diverse experiences across our UMass family.

Thanks to all who posted their stories to social media with #umassmagazine. Submissions are now closed.




Dr. Duncan Grossman wears a Harry Potter surgical cap made by his mother-in-law and an N95 mask pulled down around his neck.

Dr. Duncan Grossman wears a Harry Potter surgical cap made by his mother-in-law. His nose shows a pressure ulcer from long hours wearing an N95 mask. Photo by Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal featured photographs taken by Duncan Grossman ’12 during his work shifts. An excerpt from that story follows.

Dr. Duncan Grossman is an emergency-medicine resident at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. He was training in another service at the hospital when Covid-19 hit, but was soon reassigned to ICU-X, a cardiothoracic surgical ICU converted to handle Covid patients, as the surge hit.

He brought his camera to work because “I wanted to document the progression of a novel disease in a hospital that couldn’t know what to expect,” Dr. Grossman says. “I was inspired by these people who came to work every day to battle a new disease that no one knows how to treat and could kill any of them.”


Dr. Kestrel Reopele intubating a patient in the ER with assistance from two other medical workers, all of whom are wearing disposable gowns and masks.

Dr. Kestrel Reopele intubating a patient. “Smiling faces are a rare sight in the ER,” Dr. Grossman says, “a consequence of surgical masks and the seriousness of the atmosphere.” 

Two doctors wearing masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields work on a patient’s face. We see the patient’s bare feet at the end of the table.

Doctors intubate a patient.
Efforts are made to minimize staff exposure to the virus. Intubations are usually performed by a team of four at Maimonides, which is a teaching hospital, but now they are often done by teams of two.

From behind, a doctor’s shaved head shows indentation lines across it, some of them pink, from elastics on masks.

A doctor takes a break from his N95 mask.
“Wearing a mask all shift is uncomfortable,” Dr. Grossman says. “We ran out of the more ‘comfortable’ N95s (if you can use that word) and switched to one even less comfortable.”

When the UMass Amherst Department of Theater posted a link to this article on their Facebook page, Grossman responded, connecting his UMass experience to his current work: 

Thank you, UMass Amherst Theater. I just want to take a quick moment to say that the education I received in the theater department has been invaluable and was one of the most formative experiences of my life. I have carried it with me as an educator and as a doctor. It's still present with me every day. When I listen to case presentations, I wonder if Julie Nelson would suggest if the presenter was having "great pleasure." When crashing patients come into the ER and it feels like chaos, I wonder how Julie Fife would use her demeanor to calm everyone. When faced with dogma, I can hear Penny Remsen asking, "Why?" The way I carry myself, the way I interact with patients and colleagues, so much of it is owed to my training as an actor. Thank you to the Department of Theater for continuing to flood the world with creativity, emotional intelligence, and beauty, no matter the circumstance.