The Toll, Continued

A reader writes:

I read with great sadness the article you posted about Dr. Torres.  In the summer of 1986, I walked into a dingy office at the New York City health department to report for the first day of my summer internship following my freshman year at Cornell.  They had already given out all the best assignments and I got to pick from the last two that had been passed over by all the other students: work in the NYC morgue or go down to St. Vincent's hospital and work on an AIDS project.  Later that day I found myself in Dr. Torres' office.

The work involved a review of medical records of patients with what was then referred to as "ARC" or AIDS Related Complex.  Looking back now the study seems quite primitive, even foolish, but at the time very few people were doing this work.  I still remember several doctors rolling their eyes when I described the work I was doing with Dr. Torres (he wasn't quite yet the star he would become a few years later).

As you can imagine Greenwich Village in the summer of 1986 was not a very happy place.  People were very scared.  People were dying at ridiculously young ages.  While Dr. Torres was quite charismatic and always friendly, watching all your patients die had to have been devastating to him and his colleagues.  It still haunts me and I was just an observer.

I fear, perhaps like you, that this will be the legacy left to our troops when they return from Iraq. Dr. Torres times 100,000.