Frontlines of Coronavirus
*Editor’s Note: Savannah Cunningham is a student pharmacist at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA, and holds several regional and national leadership positions.
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic we are currently fighting across the world shines a new light on the healthcare field. It is a huge responsibility to be on the frontlines fighting a disease that is rocking the very way we live and operate both in the US and globally.
I am so impressed by all the healthcare professionals staffing hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the country, putting themselves at risk every day in order to care for the many people experiencing symptoms.
In my pharmacy, I have been working triple the hours I typically do during the school year, both because of my new relaxed online school schedule and because the volume of prescriptions being filled is over 50% higher than this time last year.
Fearful patients stream into our doors and pile up in the drive thru line from the moment we open until the doors close trying to stock up on their medications, anticipating nationwide backorders that we know are coming soon.
Young people stand right next to me asking if their symptoms warrant going to get tested for the virus. Elderly patients simply trying to pick up their medications for chronic conditions talk to me about both their fear of being out in public and potentially being exposed to a virus that they may not be able to recover from, but also being incredibly lonely cooped up inside their homes.
Our shelves are ransacked despite reducing the number of hours we are open each day.
The aisles that typically hold medications like Tylenol and antihistamines, thermometers and gloves are startlingly empty. Diabetic patients no longer have access to alcohol wipes to check their blood sugar and ask me what they should do in order to avoid infections and contamination of their testing supplies.
This virus doesn’t eliminate our patient’s typical medical needs, but now when they present a prescription, they often have no way to pay for it because their places of work have shut down indefinitely and their source of income is gone.
They are forced to choose between treating their child’s ear infection and buying groceries for the week.
Going to work now means something different than it used to. One of the pharmacists I work with has an autoimmune disease and wears a N-95 mask for the duration of her 12-hour shift, putting herself at risk to help the patients counting on her. Another pharmacist lives with both her two toddlers and her elderly parents, and she wears gloves throughout her shift, hoping not to pass on anything that she is exposed to.
Many of our friends and colleagues practice in hospitals across the country and have been subject to mandatory temperature checks as they begin their shifts each day, some choosing to sleep in on-call rooms rather than going home to potentially expose family members.
Philippians 2:3-4 says,
“Value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
This is a calling that I think the majority of healthcare providers feel is relevant to them even on a typical day, far removed from a global pandemic. We often work long hours, pushing our minds and bodies past the point we thought possible because we care about our patients.
It is an honor for me to be able to serve on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic, and I hope that everyone I come in contact with sees the light of God through how I practice.
God calls us as Christians to do this in our daily lives, and it can be easy to claim that we would practice this if given the opportunity, but it’s a completely different story when we are presented with a situation where we are actually at risk of catching a disease that could be fatal.
Healthcare providers still choosing to come to work every day are daily making the decision to place the value of others above themselves.
Esther 4:14 says,
“Who knows? Maybe you were made for just such a time as this.”
For all of us who are seemingly caught in a whirlwind of changes and confusion over what will come next for us in our education, our careers, and our personal lives, it is a wonderful reminder to read the story of Esther. When everything is hanging in the balance, perhaps this is the best opportunity to share your faith with those around you.
Share the hope that God offers and encourage your patients who are terrified about the potential outcome.
To everyone who is contributing to treating the victims of this pandemic and to alleviating the impact of the virus on all those effected, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
God calls all His followers to show those around them the light of His power and of the grace He offers us, and this is a wonderful opportunity to do that. It is an honor for me to be able to serve on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic, and I hope that everyone I come in contact with sees the light of God through how I practice.