While watching news clips of the National Nurses United (NNU) protest outside the White House, I began thinking about my first cousin who is a nurse at New Orleans East Hospital. New Orleans is one of the U.S. cities hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak. In one of her recent texts to me, she wrote: “Please keep me lifted up in prayer. My whole hospital is coronavirus.”
I have been praying for her daily, decreeing God’s protection over her life as well as praying for nurses and medical professionals throughout the country who are tirelessly laboring to treat those who are ill. I have been calling out the names of my friends who are doctors, nursing home and health-care aides, and pharmacists.
My cousin lost a nursing colleague to COVID-19 this month, a 46-year-old mother of two. NNU protesters at the White House read the names of 50 nurses who have died from the virus. Health-care workers truly need our prayers, as they are our brave frontline warriors and heroes in this battle.
As COVID-19 is taking an enormous emotional and physical toll on our nation’s hospitals, it is troubling to find out from the NNU that they are in great need of more Personal Protection Equipment, or PPE, which includes gloves, respirators and N95 masks.
The NNU is asking Congress for funding for mass-production PPE in the next coronavirus stimulus package. In addition to the demand for more PPE, the NNU press release called for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to implement standard procedures for health care workers during a pandemic like the current one.
Nurses are not alone in speaking out for more assistance and support.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is joining with Kroger in pushing for state and national lawmakers to classify the staffs of grocery stores as “extended first responders.” Like nurses and other medical workers, grocery store employees are in dire need of protective masks, which are in short supply.
Many of us are beginning to view medical professionals in an entirely different light due to the roles they have as vital personnel in the wake of COVID-19. I’ve always had the utmost respect for nurses and health-care workers, but witnessing their resilience and grit, along with the staggering sacrifices they are making, is beyond inspiring.
As I have called them warriors and heroes, I really believe the title that best describes them is “servant.”
I came across this quote in the article “Called to Serve,” which was published in the summer 2002 edition of the Journal of Christian Nursing. The author, Julie Kieffer, wrote: “We are each called to be servants of God, as Jesus was. Jesus Christ, the Son of the most high God, humbled himself and washed his disciples’ feet; if the King of the heavens and the earth did it, why can’t I? I feel honored to be called to a profession as humbling as nursing.” Jesus washing the feet of His disciples is one of the most touching accounts of servanthood in Scripture. If Kieffer is still a nurse, I can imagine her wiping the forehead of a bedridden patient suffering from cancer with the same compassion Christ extended to His disciples. I can see her silently praying over a coronavirus patient and believing in God for a miraculous recovery, and I can see her momentarily slipping away to pray in her hospital’s chapel, casting out the spirit of fear and refusing to panic.
The shortage of medical supplies needed to protect nurses while they care for COVID-19 patients makes their job much more challenging, but I am optimistic that their PPE demands will not fall on deaf ears in Congress. Most important, I believe that our prayers will sustain them during this trying time.
The following prayer is for my cousin and all of our nation’s nurses and health care workers: Father, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, let your grace, favor and protection be upon those you have equipped and ordained to minister to those who are sick. Let the healing touch of your Son flow through their hands as COVID-19 is decimated in the power of your presence.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at The Ohio State University-Lima. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. @JjSmojc