Baltimore doctor who worked pandemic ‘front lines’ dies of COVID-19

The head of a Baltimore hospital’s critical care unit, who “selflessly continued his work on the front lines” as the coronavirus pandemic swept through region, has died after contracting the virus.

Dr. Joseph Costa, the chief of the critical care unit at Mercy Medical Hospital in downtown Baltimore, died Saturday, the hospital said in a statement.

Costa was 56 and the cause of death was COVID-19, spokesman Daniel Collins told WTOP in an email.

Costa, who joined the hospital in 1997, had served as the hospital’s critical care chief for the past 15 years.

“He dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients,” hospital officials said in a statement shared on the hospital’s Facebook page. “And when the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued his work on the front lines — deeply committed to serving our patients and our city during this time of great need. His memory will live on as an example to us all.”

Dr. Joseph Costa, the chief of the critical care unit at Mercy Medical Hospital in downtown Baltimore, died July 25. (Courtesy Mercy Medical Center)

In addition to serving as chief of the critical care unit, Costa served as an officer on the Mercy medical staff for six years and as president of the medical staff for two years.

Costa earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and completed his residency at the University of Maryland.

Costa was known for his “warm and comforting bedside manner as well as his direct and informative communication style,” according to the statement.

To nurses and other staff members, “he was like an older brother that all admired and revered.”

Planning for a memorial service is now underway, according to the statement from Sister Helen Amos, the executive chair of the hospital’s board of trustees, and Mercy president and CEO Dr. David Maine.

Baltimore City, which has recorded more than 10,500 total COVID-19 cases and more than 380 deaths, has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the health officers of a number of Maryland jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, called on Gov. Larry Hogan to reimpose some coronavirus restrictions amid an uptick in statewide cases.

According to a recent analysis by the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Baltimore City has experienced one of the highest rates of growth in new coronavirus cases among major U.S. cities over the past two weeks.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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