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Unmasking the heroes of the pandemic

One of the many healthcare workers caring for Covid-19 patients in the first Covid-response hospital in Switzerland. Valeriano Di Domenico

Swiss photographer Valeriano Di Domenico captures the raw images and impressions of the people caring for Covid-19 patients through the pandemic.

This content was published on January 9, 2021 - 12:00
Valeriano Di Domenico (Photographer)

Last spring, Di Domenico was sent by a local newspaper to cover the pandemic at the first Covid-response hospital in Switzerland, in Locarno, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Moved by what he saw, he returned to shoot another series of photographs and speak to the people behind the masks.

This second set of photos are a more personal take on the nurses and doctors on the frontline and how they experienced the pandemic. They are currently on show near the hospital.  

These are some of the unmasked faces of the people he met and what they have to say. 

Selina Madrigali, intensive care nurse 

Valeriano Di Domenico

"It was hard to see the worried eyes of the colleagues who were usually always in a good mood. It was also difficult to see all the patients arriving, intubating them, and preparing them for the whole process; especially their reaction when someone explained to them what to expect.”

Valeriano Di Domenico

Nicola Clerici, Chief of Anesthesiology 

Valeriano Di Domenico

“At some point we thought we wouldn’t make it. We probably wouldn’t have been able to get through the pandemic, had the hospital admission levels stayed the same. We had exhausted all of the cantonal resources.”

Valeriano Di Domenico

Paola Galeazzi, intensive care nurse  

Valeriano Di Domenico

"I came from the regional hospital in Lugano and had heard about the situation in Locarno. But it was something else to see patients intubated with my own eyes. I was assigned two patients right away and started working. What impressed me were the number of patients, the colleagues and the constant noise.”  

Valeriano Di Domenico

Ricardo Da Graca Gameiro, nurse practitioner

Valeriano Di Domenico

"I work in the emergency room. In the beginning, when so many patients arrived, it was difficult to manage the rush. We had to move the entire ward outside the hospital to make room for intensive care beds. The incredible solidarity of the population provided support.”

Valeriano Di Domenico

Raffaella Gentilini, intensive care nurse 

Valeriano Di Domenico

"On March 9, I returned to the hospital after four days of holiday and was catapulted into a completely different reality. There were very few of us and the patients kept coming and had to be intubated and prepped. Until help arrived from other hospitals, everything was very difficult.”

Valeriano Di Domenico

Pietro Fare, Head of Internal Medicine 

Valeriano Di Domenico

"One day I entered the room of a dying woman. I told her I would bring her an embrace from the Pope. The day before, the Pope had said that we should bring a gesture of tenderness to the elderly. She lit up and touched my arm. She said, ‘it is like you are my son.' It was a gesture that moved me.”

One of the many healthcare workers caring for Covid-19 patients in the first Covid-response hospital in Switzerland. Valeriano Di Domenico

Laura Ostinelli, intensive care nurse 

Valeriano Di Domenico

"I arrived in Locarno at night from Mendrisio. I tried to imagine what I would find there. But the reality was totally different, very shocking.” 

Valeriano Di Domenico

Valeriano Di DomenicoExternal link works as a freelance photographer. He lives and works in Zurich. 

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