BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Doctor Joseph Cofrancesco considers himself a “hands on” physician and professor. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he would encourage his interns to speak to his patients and try and develop a rapport with everyone he cared for.

“Doctoring is being a human being,” he told WJZ Wednesday.

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But COVID-19 made caring for patients complicated. The contagious virus created distance between everyone.


In early March, Doctor Cofrancesco’s brother in New Jersey contracted COVID-19. It got serious enough where he was admitted into a hospital there.

“As a physician, my first though was to get in the car, drive to New Jersey, put on my PPE and go into the unit and hold my brother’s hand,” he said.

But none of that was possible. He couldn’t even leave Baltimore City.

As the virus has ravaged the country, Doctor Cofrancesco has treated more and more COVID-19 patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital as his brother’s health continued to deteriorate.

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And then he received the page he was dreading.

“It was three o’clock in the morning,” he described. “And you answer and you heart just stops.”

His brother’s heart had stopped and while they tried to resuscitate him, he died on March 19.

“It’s obviously completely devastating,” Doctor Cofrancesco said.

But it was also a reality check for him, to make the most of the time he had to treat as many COVID-19 patients as he could.

He has now treated over 100 patients with COVID-19 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, trying to medically care for them along with offering a little hope for a safe recovery – knowing all too well doctors did the same for his brother.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos