Update in a Time of Uncertainty
by Andrea Parker, Surgeon and MedSend grant recipient, Kenya
Like so many of you, our lives have changed, and are changing. Several times in the past several months, we have remarked on experiences that we never could have imagined happening when we came to Kenya. Clearly, this is one of those situations for all of us.
We want you to know that we are praying for all of you. Each of you is in a very different place and situation, and each is being affected differently by the virus and its effects on our lives. In many ways, we struggle to know how to pray. That’s okay. We pray that God will be glorified. We pray that He will work for good in each of our lives, regardless of what that might look like, and we pray for peace that passes understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We are grateful for the many that have reached out to encourage us or let us know you’re praying. We would love to know how each of you is at this time. We thought it was also worth letting you know about our situation.
Kenya is early in our course of COVID-19. The first case was diagnosed about a week ago, and we are now at 7 cases in the country. The Kenyan government has done a remarkable job of responding quickly and appropriately to the threat. Schools are closed. Gatherings that are greater than 10 people are not allowed, including worship services. We hope and pray that these early interventions will flatten the curve here, and we are grateful to live in a country that does public health so well!
For Bob and me, this week has looked somewhat like a normal week – cases, patient care, resident education, research meetings, mentor group. In other ways, it has looked very different, likely a foreshadowing of things to come. In the world of missions, we often end up doing things that need to be done but without preparation or experience, just learning as we go. There has been more of that than normal this week as we work on hospital preparations and contingency plans, quickly becoming infectious disease experts, or at least learning all we can about this particular virus, and trying to apply what limited information we have about the disease to our context.
Bob, with his public health and epidemiology background, has been especially engaged in the planning. We are putting together special isolation wards, taking stock of our limited supplies, and thinking through what care for COVID-19 patients looks like in rural Kenya. Bob has been part of the communication team for the hospital. An important part of crisis management is controlling the messaging. Bob developed the acronym CARES with his team as part of our messaging, and our communication now centers on the message: Tenwek CARES:
My own experience with curriculum development has been quite beneficial as I have been able to develop learning modules for our staff including one for healthcare workers and one for non-healthcare workers. These have been and continue to be widely distributed as a way for our community to be educated about the virus and our response to it. Check them out: http://bit.ly/Covid19Education(for non-healthcare workers) and http://bit.ly/CovidHCW(for healthcare workers). Feel free to share as education is an incredibly important tool to combat the spread of COVID-19.
None of us know what the future holds or how this virus will impact us. We try not to fear but to have sound minds in working to limit the spread and to serve our communities. We will put our efforts into loving our neighbors.
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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