Dr. Richard Levitan (above) is an intubation specialist who lives in New Hampshire
A New Hampshire doctor who traveled to New York City to volunteer for 10 days at a hospital overrun by coronavirus patients was kicked out of his brother’s empty apartment because the Manhattan co-op was afraid he was carrying the virus.
Richard Levitan, 58, an intubation pioneer who invented an ‘airway cam’ used in performing laryngoscopies, was born in New York City and worked at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital before eventually practicing in Philadelphia and New Hampshire.
Levitan answered the call for medical volunteers put out by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who pleaded for help as the state’s hospitals became overwhelmed with patients infected with COVID-19.
The doctor arranged a 10-day volunteering stint at his old hospital, Bellevue.
His brother, Dan Levitan, a Seattle-based venture capitalist who keeps a co-op apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, offered his place for him to sleep between shifts at the hospital.
There was just one problem – the co-op building near Central Park didn’t want him, according to The New York Times.
Levitan last week traveled from his New Hampshire home to New York City to help a Manhattan hospital deal with the glut of coronavirus patients
Levitan is considered a pioneer in the field of emergency medicine, having invented an ‘airway cam’ that makes it easier for doctors to perform laryngoscopies
Richard Levitan arrived at the building last Saturday to pick up a key arranged for him by his brother.
The building posted new rules in light of the coronavirus pandemic, stating: ‘No one except building residents; family members; nannies and home health care aides will be allowed into the building.’
Richard got to the building and began a friendly chat with the doorman, who asked him what he was doing in town.
He then went off to Bellevue to do his shift, his old work place where he felt right at home.
‘I walked in and 10 minutes later we were doing an intubation and putting someone on a ventilator,’ Richard told the Times.
The physician said he was eager to come to New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
‘This is the airway challenge of the century,’ the doctor said.
‘I’m an airway guy. I’m not going to sit this one out.’
Richard stayed overnight at his brother’s apartment without incident on Saturday and Sunday.
Levitan signed up for a 10-day volunteering stint at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Makeshift morgues are seen above outside Bellevue on Tuesday
But after returning from work on Monday, he was shocked to learn that he was being kicked out.
The doorman told him he needed to pack his things and leave. He then called the building’s superintendent.
‘You’re telling me I’m not welcome to stay in this apartment?’ Levitan asked the superintendent.
‘I’m afraid, doctor, that is not my decision, unfortunately, but that is the situation, unfortunately,’ the superintendent said in response.
‘Why is that?’
‘I guess they’re afraid of you bringing this virus with you,’ the superintendent said.
Levitan immediately felt at home at his old workplace, the emergency room at Bellevue (seen above on March 25)
Richard gathered his belongings and found another place to stay.
He was stunned by the building’s decision, particularly since it appeared the nearly 300 apartments were empty.
‘The place is a ghost town,’ he said.
‘Anybody with money has left.’
Cooperative buildings in New York City, or co-ops, are residential properties where those who live there don’t own the actual apartments but instead own shares in a company.
The number of shares are proportionate to the size of the apartment one owns.
Co-ops in New York, which are usually run by a board made up of the owners-residents, are known to have strict rules governing who can stay there.
Levitan said that statistically he had less of a chance of carrying the virus than people who were already living there.
‘I came from rural New Hampshire where my risk was very low,’ he said.
The co-op board in question chose not to respond to inquiries from the Times, which agreed to Levitan’s request to keep the building’s address a secret.
Levitan was worried that revealing which building it was would leave his brother vulnerable to retaliation in case one day he decided to sell his apartment.
When asked about the building’s refusal to allow him to stay, the doctor said: ‘In war, there are a million stories of people’s behavior [going bad].’
As of Saturday, New York State’s death toll was rapidly rising. Thus far, nearly 3,000 residents of the state have died of coronavirus.
Dan Levitan, Richard Levitan’s brother, is a Seattle-based venture capitalist who keeps an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side
‘Very proud of my brother Dr. Richard Levitan!’ Dan Levitan tweeted on Friday
Cuomo said on Friday that more than 500 people died over a 24-hour period.
On Friday, state officials reported more than 10,000 positive tests in one day, a record.
In total, there were 102,863 confirmed cases in New York State as of early Saturday morning, up from 92,381 on Thursday.
New York City had 57,159 cases – nearly a quarter of the confirmed cases nationwide.
The city’s death toll as of Saturday stood at 1,867. On Friday alone, 305 people died, according to officials.