A praying Christian presence intercedes silently on Covid 19 Wards

‘A praying Christian presence’ intercedes silently on the Covid-19 wards

 

by

HATTIE WILLIAMS

01 MAY 2020

 

‘Knowing there is a Supreme Being is such a comfort’CHRISTIAN doctors and nurses have described how their faith has helped them through the fear, anxiety, and physical toil of working on the NHS frontline during the coronavirus crisis. Many have prayed, and asked for prayers, for patients’ healing and for staff to cope with the challenges.

The latest report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) states that, by the week ending 17 April, more than 22,000 people in the UK had died owing to the coronavirus — 14,796 of whom died in hospital. Almost 40 per cent of all registered deaths that same week involved Covid-19, up from 33 per cent in the previous week. These figures are higher than those reported by the Government.

A surgical registrar at King’s College Hospital, in London, said on Tuesday: “Being in hospital is a frightening prospect in the best of times. The virus means that patients are not allowed visitors; this is felt particularly acutely both by vulnerable patients and their relatives who are often isolated at home.

“Speaking to the elderly wife of a patient, the fear and desperation was palpable in her voice as I told her that her husband had tested positive for the virus during his recovery from major surgery. She told me this was the longest they’d been apart in 60 years of marriage. I found myself praying for them both, praying that her husband would survive and come home to her.”

But there were also positive moments, she said. “Health-care workers from different backgrounds are pulling together, moving to different areas; there are paediatric teams looking after adult patients without complaint. Morale is good, and there is a feeling that we are more cohesive. I am hopeful that this will carry into brighter times.”

A staff nurse in endoscopy at King’s, Arianne Remulta, said: “Knowing there is a Supreme Being is such a comfort. I feel it lifts the burden from patients knowing there is a higher being in control. I regularly silently pray for patients; I don’t like to assume they have a faith, but, if they are in distress, I will say ‘Be healed’ and I can feel the Holy Spirit working through me.”

Another staff nurse, Kamille, said: “I pray for psychological help in difficult times, so that I may have strength to care for patients.”

A doctor in Sheffield who is specialising in histopathology said on Wednesday that her postgraduate exam had been cancelled 10 days before. “This felt like a major career set back when it happened, but God is helping me to see it as inconsequential when compared to the challenges being faced by so many.”

She has been redeployed to a virology lab to help with the increased workload owing to Covid-19. This involves calling staff to confirm positive Covid-19 test results. “It is easy to treat each phone call like another box to tick on a list of jobs, but my faith reminds me each person I speak to is created in the image of God with complex feelings and emotions and I try to treat them with gentleness and compassion.”

She is encouraged to attend educational-video conferences about the status and statistics in her hospital and to learn from findings in other hospitals. “These, much like the constant news, can fill me with anxiety and fear when I consider the impact this pandemic is having the world over. . .

“In these moments I am grateful for a God who is a comforter and who offers to take my burdens. Jesus made a way for humanity, by his incredible and undeserved grace, to know that this earth is only our temporary home; and that gives me comfort when considering my own mortality.

“My faith keeps me from spiralling into hopelessness, and studying Romans with my church small group via video link each week is a beautiful reminder that our hope is in Jesus and his death and resurrection.”

A minute’s silence was held at 11 a.m. on International Workers’ Memorial Day, on Tuesday, to remember people who had lost their lives at work, particularly health workers who have died after contracting coronavirus.

The Revd Dr Pauline Pearson, who is an emeritus professor of the Department of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health at Northumbria University and the journal editor at CHRISM (Christians in Secular Ministry), said on Tuesday: “The pandemic is impacting people working in health and social care in many ways, including ministers in secular employment.”

Adrian, an ordinand and the lead clinician for Covid-19 in a GP surgery in Wales, said that the experience had been a “wilderness” of prayer and worry about staff, patients, the NHS, and how to respond to each new circumstance.