New York City cardiologist Dr. Samer Kottiech became a “hardcore COVID expert” the hard way, according to the American Heart Association.
First, he developed symptoms he didn’t immediately recognize as COVID-19: redness and pain on the small toes of his left foot and his index finger. Chills and severe muscle aches presented two days later, followed by high fever and loss of sense of smell.
“I felt like un carro me pasó por arriba (like a car ran me over),” said Kottiech, who tested positive in March and has now fully recovered. “I felt horrible pain and I’m not a guy who complains. As you can imagine, because of the high fever, sometimes I couldn’t even get out of bed.”
Kottiech believes he contracted the virus at an outreach Washington Heights medical office where he works twice a month. Despite his illness, on the days he could get up, Kottiech screened and treated his patients using telemedicine. About 98% of his practice is Hispanic, the group with the highest percentage of deaths of any racial group in New York City, according to that state’s health department. Kottiech knew he was needed.