Who will care for the care-givers?
Rachel had been working at UTSW for about a year before the COVID-19 outbreak hit. Early on in the pandemic, her unit was converted to a COVID-19 ICU. She didn’t go to nursing school expecting to be a COVID nurse, but the Lord makes no mistakes as to where He places His people.
In the beginning days, it was easy for Rachel and other healthcare workers to answer the call and to put their heads down and get to work. This was the profession they chose, after all. Many are naturally servants at heart and were created to run towards chaos and bring order and peace in the middle of difficult times.
But there's only so much "running towards the fire" that one person can do. As the pandemic has shifted from a sprint to a marathon, we've watched it take a toll on those on the frontlines.
For Rachel, support was found through others who understood what she was going through.
“COVID-19 has been one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever had to walk through. While work has been chaotic and we have been constantly inundated with ever changing information, the clinics have shown me an example of what healthcare could be like. The staff never asked me to be a superhero. They simply said, ‘Come as you are, and we’ll walk through this together.’”
The clinic team has become a “safe place” for healthcare workers to process and heal from some of the difficulties of their current situations. Many state that serving with Watermark Health has become their version of self-care as they get to practice medicine in a Christian setting.
Caring for our own
Early on, our staff anticipated there would be a need among the healthcare worker community and in the midst of serving our patients, fought to also carve out space to serve other healthcare workers around our city. We know that our clinics are a redeemed way to practice medicine and serve as a beacon of hope for many healthcare workers. We only wanted to multiply and deepen that impact during the pandemic.
To begin, in the very first week of the pandemic as most of the city was shut down, we were able to mobilize Watermark members to supply gift bags to encourage front line workers. Included with some snacks, gift cards, and items to give them energy, the package also included a note from our team and some reminders about how to lean on their faith in the middle of this difficult time. This small gift spoke volumes to ICU nurses, ER providers, and first responders across the city. During the middle of a nerve-racking time for many, their gratitude poured in.
"This gift drop off was a tangible reminder of the goodness of God. Thank you Watermark Church for loving your body well and continuing to pursue your people. Thank you Watermark Health for being you. I thank the Lord every day to be on mission with this team. I count it a privilege to be equipped and encouraged by the most God-fearing, courageous, supportive, and loving rockstar group of medical and non-medical humans in DFW." - Kate Alexander, RN
One area we've just begun to pilot and hope to multiply in the new year includes support groups for healthcare workers. In addition to the variety of equipping resources we're working to put in their hands, we also want to create safe spaces for frontline workers to process the difficulties of their jobs and the burden they're carrying.
So far in 2020, we've hosted a variety of gatherings with nurses around the city, and given them space to share, lament, and grieve this situation together. In these meetings we're not fixing or changing much of their circumstances, but have the chance to listen well and point them to reminders of a God who can shoulder any trial with them.
From stories of "messy codes", to overwhelming amounts of death in their jobs, it has been a privilege to walk with these frontline workers in the midst of this difficult time. We only hope to increase our impact in this area into 2021.
If you'd like to help us make sure that Healthcare Workers have someone looking out for them, we'd love to have you invest with us.