Through AIDS, Ebola and Kovid, Drs. Fauci is still treating patients

Nina Pham was tired, weak and heavy medicine. The first person to contract the Ebola virus on American soil, he was taken by ambulance to the National Institutes of Health, where he was being treated in perhaps the safest room of the nation’s most prestigious medical facility. Ms. Pham did not know who her doctor was. She does not recognize him in his protective shield anyway.

The stranger in a dangerous suit, who personally cared for Ms. Pham six years ago, is now the country’s best-known and recognizable doctor: Anthony Fauci.

“I just remember him for being a quiet presence,” she said in an interview. “The fact that he was so confident gave me strength and confidence in myself that I was going to defeat it.”

2020 was the year when millions of American Dr. Familiarized with Fauci’s bedside manner. It began in Wuhan, China with the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases hearing reports of a mysterious, novel type of coronavirus outbreak. It ended by injecting it onto the camera to vouch for a vaccine developed at a miraculous pace.

Dr. Fauci had a preference on the part because there was at least one thing about his life that did not change this year: the country’s most famous bureaucrat is still a practicing physician.

As he rolled up his sleeves before his 80th birthday on Thursday, Drs. Fauci explained why he was being vaccinated. He wanted the public to feel “over-confident” that it was safe, he said. He also needed a shot to do his job. He stays at the NIH Clinical Center as an attending physician treating patients two or three days a week.

As many people noted Drs. Pledging his confidence in Fauci, citing his experience over four decades, helping to navigate the country from outbreaks of AIDS, biotourism, Ebola, swine flu and infectious disease, which could have been a health crisis, among others, his popularity. Evaluated and emphasized their message. He was periodically sidelined by President Trump, and the president’s most ardent supporters said that he needed protection.

During a bitter congressional hearing in May, Drs. “I never made myself the last and only voice,” Fauci told Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.). “I am a scientist, a physician and a public health officer. I advise according to the best scientific evidence. “

Dr. The key to understanding Fauci was an easily overlooked word in that response: the physician.

“He always told me that the most important thing for him was the care of the patients,” said John Gallin, longtime director of the NIH Clinical Center. “He thought that the privilege of helping people when he was sick was the most rewarding and the last thing he would ever give up.”

Treating patients “is an important part of my identity,” Dr. Fauci said earlier this year.


Alex Edelman – Pool Via CNP / Zuma Press

The epidemic caused Dr. Devoured Fauci so much that he took a break from his rounds since March. But amid Coronavirus task force briefings, countless media appearances, and occasional Instagram chats with a celebrity for the past nine months — Dr. Fauci gave time to see the patients in the hospital. Some of them had serious cases of illness that he was also battling outside the hospital.

“Every once in a while, usually when I’m driving home alone or when I’m on a run with my wife, I say to myself: Boy, do I want me to take care of patients in emergencies Was back in the room, “Dr. Fauci said in an interview earlier this year. “It is such an important part of my identity.”

He has maintained this balance between research and clinical work which is the defining feature of his career. As long as he remained at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as long as he was the director, Drs. Fauci believes that treating one patient can cure many patients. This is a lesson that was given to him early in his career.

Once an NIH historian told of his first influential work, “We were able to do something that people said you couldn’t do: You can’t do clinical medicine at the same time.” “This is almost certainly false.”

This philosophy gave Dr. What made Fauci clinically different. His breed of clinical investigator was once called an “endangered species” in the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine – and it was in the 1970s. You can be a physician or scientist according to conventional wisdom, but not both.

Dr. Fauci disagreed. He was so committed to pursuing both that he refused to leave his practice when he became the director of NIAID. And he made it clear in the early, frenzied days of the epidemic that he planned to resume his regularly scheduled rounds on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then he did.

“You were lucky to have Tony Fauci as your doctor,” said Steven Sharfstein, president emeritus of Shepard Pratt Health System, Maryland. ”

Dr. Scharfstein, who in the early 1980s Dr. He used to make daily rounds with Fauci, remembering the death of a young AIDS patient whom he was treating. His colleagues say that Drs. The neighbor never forgot that people are not data. “They were more than just numbers in one study,” Dr. Scharfstein said.

Dr. Fauci in protective gear, as he helped treat an Ebola patient in 2014.



Nina Pham, one of her many patients in the fifties, epidemics and half-century of epidemics, was a nurse in Dallas, Texas, who helped care for a man who died of Ebola in October 2014. Two days later, his fever subsided. Dr. Fauci said take him to NIH.

Ms. Pham was separated into the hospital’s Special Clinical Studies Unit, a biocyanation facility built after the September 11 attacks, and was feared in the air when she arrived. As the institute’s Medicare-qualified director, Drs. Fauci was not a natural choice to care for an Ebola patient. But it was not a mind for him.

He once said, “I didn’t like the idea of ​​asking my employees about the risk of getting infected if I wasn’t willing to do it myself,” he said.

He said that Dr. Fauci was in a very uncomfortable position to be away from his family. Before his age was taught how to zoom, he learned FaceTime so that they could be in regular communication. He still emails regularly with patients from the 1970s — even with his inbox in 2020. But what she did for Ms. Pham is the most reassuring thing she remembers before meeting her. Long after Ms. Pham was admitted, Drs. Fauci shared a message with the world: He predicted that he would be an Ebola survivor.

Eight days after she rolled into the hospital, Ms. Pham went to Drs. She got a hug from her neighbor.

Ms. Pham said, “I trusted him with my life.”

But whenever he was discharged, Drs. Fauci promised, so his doctors were not with him. A few months after the Ebola scare, a report on Ms. Pham, now a clinical consultant for an insurance broker, appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr. Fauci was one of the authors.

His team collected enough data in his case to allow hospitalization of scientific knowledge. He saved lives, learning how to save more lives.

“That’s essentially what we’re doing here,” Dr. Fauci said.

Write to Ben Cohen at [email protected] and Louise Renofsky to

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