BALTIMORE — Dr. Joseph Costa, the chief of critical care who treated the sickest COVID-19 patients at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, succumbed to the virus at the age of 56 Saturday, the hospital confirmed to CNN.
"Joe was more than a trusted colleague; he was also a true friend to many," Sister Helen Amos, executive chair of Mercy Health Services Board of Trustees, and Dr. David Maine, Mercy Health Services president and CEO, wrote in a letter to the hospital community. The letter was forwarded to CNN by the hospital's spokesman and also shared on Facebook.
"He dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients. And when the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued his work on the front lines — deeply committed to serving our patients and our city during this time of great need. His memory will live on as an example to us all."
Members of Costa's family were not available for comment to CNN. Hospital spokesman Dan Collins told CNN that the family is not giving media interviews at this time.
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, David Hart, Costa's husband of 28 years, said his late husband was the bravest man he knew.
"I keep thinking, now there is one less ICU doctor to care for pandemic patients in Baltimore," Hart told the newspaper.
The doctor's death comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the United States. As of Monday, Maryland had more than 84,876 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,447 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Costa had been chief of critical care at Mercy Medical Center since 2005, previously serving consecutive stints as secretary and treasurer, vice president, and president of Mercy Medical Staff from 2010 to 2016.
A graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Costa also held faculty positions at the university since 1992 and often served as media spokesperson for clinical expertise on pulmonary and critical care issues for the hospital.
Baltimore Magazine named Costa as one of the city's "Top Docs" in 2019, an award based on polling thousands of physicians across 129 specialties, according to its methodology.
In memory of Dr. Costa, the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Health Services Administration will plant a tree in the ICU's Bunting 9th Floor Garden this summer, the center added.
About 20 of Costa's colleagues held a vigil and placed their blue-gloved hands on him as he lay dying, Collins confirmed to CNN. Formal services to honor Costa's life were being planned.
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