Supporting those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

I communicated yesterday with several ER and ICU doctors and nurses in my circle. These are the people on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. They had very clear ideas on how all of us can help right now.

In order of importance:

  • PRAY for every medical professional you know: for their protection, their strength, and their sanity. Pray also for their families; it is scary to watch your spouse head into danger every day, and scary as they potentially bring germs back into your house.
  • If you bought face masks for your personal use, donate them instead to your local hospital. You do not need them – they do! Because private citizens are hoarding them, our hospitals are running out of these critical pieces of protective gear.
  • Do not injure yourself or do anything that would require medical treatment. Our hospitals cannot deal with normal medical issues right now. Schedule your heart attacks and strokes for later in the year. Wink.
  • Do NOT go to the hospital if you have non-emergency symptoms. If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, stay home and call your primary care doctor or your state hotline to ask about getting tested.
  • If you want to do something practical, drop off purchased and sealed food at your local ER. These must be individually wrapped and sealed so that they can be easily wiped down. You should only give things like granola bars, bottled smoothies, and bananas. No homemade treats right now. Do not enter the ER – just hand the boxes of food to security or front desk staff.
  • Offer to help with childcare for the kids of medical workers. Medical staff must work right now, so they may need help caring for their kids who are off school. Assess your own risk factors, though, before bringing additional (possibly infected) people into your home.

 

Medical friends, please comment below to correct anything I got wrong or to add more ideas.

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My kids and I made these this weekend to send to medical professionals in our life. We washed our hands before, during, and after making and sealing them in envelopes.

Love in the time of COVID-19

In the last week, I have been thinking hard about the two institutions I help lead: the Goetsch family (as Mom) and Huron Hills Church (as board Vice Chair). I believe it is incumbent on every institution leader, no matter how small, to ask what public service they are called to do at this unique moment.

Everything I have read has led me to the conclusion that if we want to “flatten the curve,” every institution that can must shut down as soon as possible. And, realistically, the smaller the institution, the easier it is to do so. So, the small ones must take the lead. At this moment, every gathering that is canceled and every individual that self-isolates can make a difference in whether this virus overtakes our hospitals at a rate they can handle or swamps them way beyond their capacity.

If you have not already, the time to act is NOW.  We are at most fourteen days behind Italy whose doctors are already facing horrific decisions about which desperately ill patients get ventilators. In just a few days, the difficulties of remote learning, working from home, and canceling travel are not going to feel nearly so important.

Rick and I decided to self-isolate our family starting today (Thursday, March 12th). We have withdrawn our kids from school and ourselves from all gatherings.  We have prepared to not leave our home for two full weeks. This is not so much to protect ourselves from germs but to protect others from germs we might be carrying. We want to protect the vulnerable…of whom there are many. Everyone above age 60, all cancer survivors, anyone with diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, and everyone who is immuno-compromised for any reason.

Additionally, our church board unanimously agreed last night to move services online and to suspend all gatherings on church property until further notice. Attached is the beautiful email our pastor sent our church body today. I commend it to you, particularly those who lead churches and other groups. A few quotes:

We are confident in Christ’s power. We are concentrating on caring for and loving each other. We are committed to our civic responsibilities as an institution.

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We turn first to our Loving Father. Then we do our part in cooperating with his healing work.

…………

We want to create a COVID19 RESPONSE TEAM. This team will focus on our at-risk members. We will contact them regularly, pray with them over the phone, and stay informed of their practical needs, especially if they are self-isolating.

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Rick during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic. May everyone who needs it this year be able to get the critical care that Rick was so blessed to receive then.

What the ICU Taught Me About Marriage

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When I vowed to love Rick “in sickness and in health,” I found the words romantic.  Like many brides, I had some vague idea that long marriages always end up involving difficult times, but I had only the dimmest understanding of what I was actually promising.

We made it seven years before I learned what it means to have and to hold in sickness.  Continue reading “What the ICU Taught Me About Marriage”

Things I learned in the ICU

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(Please ignore the bogus date on this picture. Do you know anyone whose camera dates their photos correctly?)

In early 2009, my husband became suddenly and dangerously ill.  He was 41, in perfect health, and the father of three kids, aged 6 months to 2.5 years.  In what we think turned out to be Swine Flu (also known as H1N1), he found himself fighting for his very life.  He ended up spending 54 days in the hospital, most of them in the intensive care unit on a ventilator, a month in in-patient rehab afterwards, and several months in out-patient rehab after that.  Needless to say, this period was life changing for me, as well, and I learned quite a lot…on a number of topics.  In no particular order, here are a few of the things I gleaned during those harrowing days:

  • A trashy, gossip magazine can be a balm to the soul.  Seriously.  Disdain not The Ministry of the Well-timed Entertainment Weekly, friends.  Or the pastoral care offered by Sports Illustrated.  The day after my husband was admitted to the hospital and we were beginning to understand that this was serious, I called a new friend from his bedside phone.  We had only moved to the area 8 months before, but I had a starting-to-bud friendship with a neighbor and fellow grad student wife.  Sensing that she was the kind of person who would jump in with comfort and aid, I called her and started crying on the phone.  Within an hour, she had come to the hospital, found us in the maze of the radiology wing where Rick was getting his lungs examined, and handed me a care package of trail mix, instant Korean coffee, and several People magazines.  This was perfectly done.  There is not one improvement I could suggest to my friend’s care for me that day.

Continue reading “Things I learned in the ICU”