MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBS) — While doctors and nurses work hard to heal their patients, sometimes in works in reverse.

In May, 17-year-old David Vargas was hospitalized for the COVID-related inflammatory syndrome that has been striking children.

“These people with, you know, masks and gowns and gloves come into your room. You can’t even see their face. It’s really strange. I found a way to endure it and go through it with the things that I love to do,” David said.

David loves to draw. He found his subject matter at his bedside — doctors and nurses under layers of PPE.


“It made me feel seen in a way that I hadn’t experienced,” said Dr. Elana Siegel, a pediatric resident with Mount Sinai Health System. “I just want to pull down my mask and say, this is my face, this is who I am, I’m taking care of you, and I’m not able to do that. And it feels impersonal. And seeing that he took that and ran with it and made something completely beautiful out of that was very rewarding.”

Siegel even has a namesake — a seagull. She calls it her spirit animal.

“What I found so funny is that everyone said, you know, he didn’t even have to write Dr. Siegel on it. They could tell it was me just by the way I held my body and moved my arms. It was a very Elana Siegel pose,” Siegel said.

“Dr. Siegel was so blown away, by the way, that you drew her. She feels like you brought her alive,” CBS’s Meg Oliver said.

“I’m really happy that, you know, she sees the life in that picture, and I’m happy that it put a smile on her face,” David said.


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