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Photos show the heartbreaking reality of what's happening in hospitals during COVID-19 pandemic

A New Jersey photographer documented the good and the bad behind the scenes as healthcare workers fight the deadly virus.

Images of patients and hospital staff offer a glimpses into the ups and downs of COVID-19. Moments of loss and exhaustion, hope and healing are captured through the lens of a camera.

Meet one of the many unseen faces in the battle against the coronavirus, photographer Jeff Rhode.

“When you say health care worker, that’s not just someone who works in the medical field,” said Rhode, “Whether it’s the medical staff, carpenter, environmental services, security, the list goes on and on.”

Rhode is a multimedia specialist at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey.

“Prior to the pandemic, I would be doing advertising work for the hospital…whatever they really needed done,” said Rhode.

RELATED: 'It's humbled me': Atlanta nurse wraps 8-week stint fighting COVID-19 at NYC hospital

Credit: Jeff Rhode
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Rhode

Early on, Rhode said he didn’t understand how many people the virus would affect.

“The beds would just fill up,” said Rhode, “It was just tough to see, tough to see how many patients were coming in.”

All of the sudden, the focus of the job changed.

“I don’t know if I ever really thought about whether I had to document patients and document our staff here at the hospital. I just knew I wanted to,” said Rhode.

Rhode began snapping away, capturing the humanity behind the walls of his hospital.

“There were a couple of moments when nurses were going to enter a room with a COVID-positive patient, they would take a moment before going into the room,” said Rhode, “There’s one moment that stuck out in my mind where a nurse walked up and just put her hand on the door, and you could see her just take a breath before she went in.”

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He describes taking photos of nurses holding a patient’s hand and talking to them. The patient, he says, was on oxygen, unconscious, and had taken a turn for the worse.

“I saw some of the most compassionate behavior I have ever seen, and it was with people who could potentially get them sick,” explained Rhode.

In all of the sadness, he finds so much hope.

“You’d have doctors and nurses calling in on their days off to find out how one of their patients was doing. They would come in on a day off to do a clap-out to celebrate them leaving. How dedicated medical workers are, it’s like a different type of person,” said Rhode.

He says his job doesn't end when patients leave the hospital. Now that Holy Name Medical Center has very few COVID patients, he’s shifted to documenting their rehabilitation.

“It’s nice to be able to follow some of the patients home and see them in their recovery. It’s great to see after so many weeks in a row of seeing a lot of sickness,” said Rhode.

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