Frank Gabrin, an emergency room doctor in New Jersey, died on March 31, one week after developing coronavirus symptoms. He is the first emergency physician to die of likely coronavirus complications, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Gabrin, 60, worked in the ER at East Orange General Hospital in New Jersey. His husband, Arnold Vargas, tells NJ Advance Media that Gabrin woke up on March 24 with chest pain and other coronavirus symptoms. While he was not tested for Covid-19, he had treated other patients who had contracted the virus.
Gabrin emphasized compassion as a way to heal. “I believe that caring for others should be an emotionally rewarding, health-generating experience,” he wrote on his website. “I believe that there is nothing better than caring for others, making a real difference that matters for them. I believe in changing the world, making it a better place, one patient encounter at a time.”
He Was a Two-Time Cancer Survivor
Gabrin was a two-time cancer survivor. His husband says that after exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19, Gabrin told him, “I can handle this. I survived cancer and this is just the coronavirus.”
Vargas continued, “He never complained about anything, he just wanted to work and help people.”
Gabrin and Vargas were married for less than a year. Debra Vasalech Lyons, a close friend of the doctor, tells USA Today, “This was their fairy tale. It happened so fast. An hour later, he was gone.”
The physician passed away in his husband’s arms.
Alvaro Alban, the chairman of East Orange’s Emergency Department, told NBC that Gabrin was “delightful, caring and wonderful to work with.”
As his last post on Twitter, Dr. Gabrin wrote, “Don’t forget about these tools people! They can be the most powerful drugs we have to use in this pandemic!” He then listed the following: tolerance, kindness, empathy, compassion, love for no reason, patience, understanding, caring, sharing, giving, human dignity, selflessness, emotional connection, support, curiosity, innovation, resilience, endurance, and steadiness.
He Served in the United States Navy Medical Corps
According to his website, Gabrin was born and raised in Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburg. He received his medical degree in 1985 from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After one year of post-graduate training, Gabrin served in the US Navy Medical Corps. There, he was honored with the Navy Achievement Medal.
Gabrin later became the Director of the Emergency Department at Millington Naval Hospital. In the 1990s, he was a volunteer physician and took care of patients in the Adult Medical and Early Intervention HIV/AIDS Program at the Cleveland Free Clinic.
The late doctor authored two books: “Care 101: The Six Stage Protocol of True Care” and “Booster Shots: Antidoes for Burnout and Compassion Fatigue”, which address the subjects of wellness and resiliency.
As of April 3, New Jersey has reported at least 29,895 coronavirus cases, and 646 reported deaths, according to Fox. Flags across the state have been flown at half-mast to honor those who have passed.