Dr. Scott Schubach remembers the date: On March 22, he had a slight cough that was "probably nothing."
A little more than a week later, he was hospitalized with COVID-19 at NYU Winthrop in Mineola, the same hospital where he is the chairman of cardiothoracic surgery.
"I went in on that Monday, started feeling achy and left work," Schubach, 62, said. "By the following Monday, I was having trouble breathing."
This week, after eight days in the hospital, including three days in the ICU, Schubach returned to work after a month on the sidelines.
As a doctor, Schubach said, "I knew what was happening around me, but I'm still a human being with the appropriate emotions."
Schubach added that while he always empathized with patient concerns, his experience crystallized it for him.
"It just reinforces that every patient is a human being with a disease," he said.
Schubach added that his wife had COVID-19 symptoms that included a fever and nausea, but never got tested.
He said he doesn't know how he contracted the virus.
"You can't tell for sure," Schubach said. "I took a little vacation before, so maybe that was it. But I probably caught it at work."
NYU Winthrop had the first known hospitalized COVID-19 patient on Long Island in early March. Winthrop discharged its 750th COVID-19 patient on Tuesday.