Doctor who treated hospital's sickest coronavirus patients dies from COVID-19

A doctor who treated the sickest coronavirus patients at a Baltimore hospital has died after contracting COVID-19.

Joseph Costa was the chief doctor at Mercy Medical Center's critical care unit. He died Saturday at the age of 56.

Dr. Joseph Costa (Mercy Medical Center - Baltimore)

The hospital issued a statement saying it was with great sadness the community mourned the loss of Dr. Costa. “He dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients,” the hospital said in the statement posted on its Facebook page. “And when the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued his work on the front lines.”

Hospital officials described him as a physician who was deeply admired and respected by not only the medical community but by those he treated as well as their families. 

"He was beloved by his patients and their family members—known for his warm and comforting bedside manner as well as his direct and informative communication style. When he counseled our patients and families, he did so with great compassion and empathy," the hospital wrote.  

On Facebook, comments have been pouring in from those who paid tribute to the doctor, many of whom called him a truly kind and caring person and a hero. 

"My prayers and sympathy to Dr Costa's family and all those at Mercy Medical Center. I know all hearts are heavy at this time. He was such a caring and giving man and just a fabulous doctor," wrote Ann Fisher. 

Carl Frank called Costa "A hero for all of us today, a lifelong servant to countless patients and families and a childhood friend we were blessed to know and will never forget."

Many comments came from family members of those he treated. 

"So sad to hear this. We are so thankful for Dr. Costas and how he helped to save my mom when she was under his care in the ICU for months," Jenn Pedersen wrote.

Costa joined the hospital in 1997 and became the chief of the critical care unit in 2005.

“He knew how to take good care of himself, and he still passed away from this disease,” Amy Zimmerman, a doctor who graduated with Costa from medical school, told WBAL-TV. “This could happen to anybody.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.