Paints a New Road to Covid Recovery: The Doctor Uses Art to Treat Pandemic Experiences

A local doctor on the front lines of the Covid match has armed himself with a brush and finds solace in colors. And now his creations ease the burden on others.

Justin Fiala is a lung and critical specialist at Northwestern Medicine, where he cares for the sickest Covid patients.

“I can spend hours at a time down here and it feels like 10 minutes,” he said. It is a meditative process. … By anchoring in the ability to get my emotions out in the painting, I was really able to work through some of the lowest points emotionally in the pandemic. ”

Fiala is also an artist.

“The ICU can be such a hard place to work because we see the worst of the worst come through,” he said. “We see the horrors of the worst things that can happen.”

A local doctor on the front lines of the Covid match has armed himself with a brush and finds solace in colors.

But in his home studio, tubes of paint and a colorful palette provide a stark contrast to the sterile and stressful intensive care unit.

“In the beginning, it was scary to go to work every single day, and I definitely felt like I was going into a war zone in the early days,” he said.

It is a period that inspired his current canvas – a CTA commute to work in the early days of the pandemic.

“You look around on that morning bus at 5:30 in the morning and you can see it’s all scrubs,” he said. “Everyone is heading towards the same place, which is dedication to patient care.”

Today, it is a different patient population on the device.

Justin Fiala is a lung and critical specialist at Northwestern Medicine, where he cares for the sickest Covid patients.

“Two years out there have been a lot of delayed diagnoses, delayed treatment of other chronic diseases, whether – it’s cancer, heart failure, choose for yourself, people who were undertreated or inadequately treated – now come in with advanced disease and covid on top of that. the purchase, ”he said.

Just as the volume of cases at the hospital has changed, so has Fiala’s method of brushing.

“Eventually, what started to pop out was a human form, and it’s something that grew organically out of the canvas,” Fiala said.

His characteristic sharp angles make room for more fluid lines in this kind of self-portrait.

“One of the first things I saw come into focus was what ended up being a breathing tube that somehow extends from the mouth and down through the throat into the trachea,” he said.

“Eventually, what started to pop out was a human form, and it’s something that organically grew out of the canvas,” Justin Fiala told WGN News.

He worked on the painting for a year and a half.

“I think it represents the strange place the intensive care unit exists, which is sometimes halfway between life and death, really like a purgatory to some degree,” he said. “It really is a reflection of, ‘There, but for the grace of God go all of us,’ the critical illness can affect us all.”

With other pieces of his pandemic-themed art around him, Fiala plans to keep creating.

Some of these complex issues and ethical issues that have arisen during the pandemic, my art has been the lens through which I have been able to make some sense out of it. So I just consider myself lucky that I had this art as an alternative way to vent that frustration and play with some of these ideas and make sense of a lot of the chaos that has taken place. “

Dr. Fiala

A painting by Justin Fiala.

Fiala said he took art classes as a child, then life and career got in the way of his creations, until now, when the weight of the pandemic dragged him back to the release of painting.

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