Coronavirus brings doctors to the Bronx


Although it is common to hunt apartments in New York with a long wish list, Taruna Chandok had only one requirement for her first apartment in the city: “The only criterion was near the hospital,” said 45-year-old Dr. Chandok, who began a stay in internal medicine at the BronxCare Hospital Center in July.

“The stay is busy – you don’t have time to think about everything else,” she said. “When I’m home, I read about my patients.” You can’t stop reading and learning. “

Dr. Chandok practiced medicine in India for four years before marrying another physician and moving to Massachusetts. However, in order to work as a physician in the United States, she would have to pass qualifying exams and residency there – obstacles that she could not begin to address with two young children and several seriously ill members of the extended family until several years before.

“I ran around appointing doctors and made sure everyone had their medicines, shopping, laundry, the children were very young and the people were sick,” she said. “I was so busy.” I never thought of myself. “

Staying in the Bronx, about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Newton, Massachusetts, a home she shares with her husband, their teenage sons, and her mother-in-law, volunteered for Dr. Chandok worked at the hospital during the culminating urban coronavirus epidemic.

“When it happened to Covid, I didn’t want to sit at home and be his spectator,” said Dr. Chandok, who previously volunteered as a research assistant at VA Hospital near home. . “I started with New York because it was the worst hit place and I sent emails everywhere to see if I could help anyone.” BronxCare called me immediately. “

After two months at Grand Concourse Hospital, on the border of Mount Eden and Claremont, she slept on an air mattress in a medical apartment and returned to Massachusetts. “I was glad the worst period of Covid was over, but sad to leave the hospital,” she said.

Three weeks later, he called her BronxCare and offered to stay in the hospital, where she volunteered. “I was so excited,” she said. “I was so hungry.” You know, when you put food in front of someone who is so hungry and he swallows everything? I was like that. “

Dr. Chandok knew she would spend most of her waking hours in the next three years in the hospital, not at home, so she didn’t want to waste time searching the apartment. She also knew that many of the doctors who worked at the hospital lived in one of the two surrounding buildings, 1700 and 1770. Large space, in possession Properties Goldfarb, an owner and management company based in New York, which provided an apartment in the spring where she lived as a volunteer. Dr. Chandok told the company she wanted a studio in one of the buildings.

“They gave me a nice balcony, which is only a two minute walk to the hospital,” she said. “It won’t be long before I return.” And time is precious because you get a lot more time to relax. “

Her rent is $ 1,780 a month, and although she has met other residents with cheaper places, she is glad that her building has 24/7 security and someone who accepts packages because her shifts regularly exceed 12 hours and change frequently.

She was pleasantly surprised by some other features: good sunlight from three large windows and a private balcony. “Although I’m not here to enjoy it so much,” she said. “Every week I get time off on Saturday or Sunday.” The golden weekend is both days off. When that happens, I return to Boston to see my family. “

1780 USD | Mount Eden, Bronx

Cast: Internal medicine resident at BronxCare Hospital Center
Do you know New York? Not yet: “I’d like to know the city,” she said. “But I haven’t thought about it yet.” It was so busy. “
But she recognizes the Bronx: “The community teaches me so much,” she said. “You see how Covid adjusts and changes everything.” I have great respect for this community. “
Traffic in New York: “It’s crazy here, people were honking for no reason.” I’ve been driving for so long and I’ve never grumbled, “she said. “People are a little more patient in Boston than in New York.”

On other weekends, her husband Dharmender will come to visit. (He’s an anesthesiologist at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester.) “I miss my children, I miss them, but they’re older now — 13 and 15 — so they don’t need me that much,” she said. They also call every day.

It’s the first time she’s lived alone. As a student and young doctor in India, she lived either in a medical dormitory with a roommate – she completed most of her training in Mumbai, “which is not a cheap place to live; it’s like New York ”- then later, with her family in New Delhi to save money.

He usually spends only a few hours in the apartment between shifts. “As soon as I get home, I play background music, relax, have some tea,” she said.

She approached the decor senselessly, equipping the room with items from Ikea and Bob’s Discount Furniture, and buying heavy blinds when she worked at night and needed to sleep during the day.

As she compared the space to her Massachusetts home, she laughed, “It’s just a studio. It’s like the size of one bedroom. I have a big house in Newton, a big yard. And you don’t see roads or cars – they’re all in garages – just greenery. There are cars lined up on the street and it’s very busy. “

Her life is also very different from the one she led in Massachusetts. There she spent hours every day shopping and preparing food for her family. Now her mother-in-law cooks and freezes her food, and her husband brings it to them as he visits them so that she can concentrate on her work without being distracted by households.

“I’ve always been someone who likes to eat healthily, exercise.” I don’t like food, “said Dr. Chandok, who will not feed on food and a vending machine for the next few years, as many of her colleagues will do. However, the exercise fell out of the way, even with the gym in the next building. Focuses elsewhere.

“I’m lucky that at this time, after 20 years, anything is possible,” Dr. Chandok said. “My family doesn’t have to depend on me anymore and I’m pretty well balanced.” I can devote all my attention to patient care. “

She added: “I can’t tell you what it’s like to feel like starting your life again after such a long time. I have always been a hardworking worker and I have the support of my husband, children and friends that you need if you start late. But this is not a bad time. My colleagues are much younger than me, yes, and even my seniors are younger than me, but I don’t feel it. “

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