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Faculty Spotlight: Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti, MD

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti, MD

She and her family contracted COVID-19 simultaneously. After their full recoveries, Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti, an assistant professor in pediatrics in the Division of Primary Care and the Duke Healthy Lifestyles Program, is finding room for hope in this season and the beauty of Durham's community.

In this challengng time for our community, where have you seen beauty?
In the past few weeks, as I do every year in the spring, I have watched the azaleas around my house bloom into beautiful shades of pink, purple and bright white. All around my neighborhood there are pops of colors at every turn. Spring is the season that feels most “Durham” to me, with vibrant energy and color, with feelings of growth and renewal, and with a sense of communal excitement about what is ahead.

This year, my usual anticipation of spring has been tempered by the sadness of the COVID-19 pandemic. The beauty I saw, heard, and smelled in nature didn’t quite match the anxiety I was seeing in the clinic, the fear I heard from my patients. It almost felt like an out of body experience to watch all the natural beauty outside in the face of so much illness.

Then I started paying attention to all the acts of kindness, generosity, and service I was seeing at work. Medical staff who put on their best “I’m here for you!” face to greet scared children and parents. Doctors, nurses, and clerks working around the clock to adapt to a new world of patient care almost overnight. Everyone laser-focused on keeping our patients and each other safe and cared for during this unprecedented time. It made me realize that this selfless generosity, this abundant human spirit, was in fact, the PERFECT match to spring in Durham.

I am fortunate enough to have experienced the kindness of my colleagues as both a doctor and a patient. My whole family and I had COVID-19 and are thankfully recovered. I went on a run for the first time in a month and was able to once again take in the beauty of spring in Durham. I had the energy and perseverance of my colleagues keeping my legs moving, and the beauty of the dogwoods and azaleas keeping my spirits high.

This article originally appeared on the Discover Durham website.