Faith helps a nurse in a New York hospital care for COVID-19
patients and encourage her co-workers in the struggle
I have been working at North Central Bronx Hospital in New York for 27 years as a registered nurse. Right now, our hospital is a war zone as we battle COVID-19.
All elective surgeries were canceled. Several units, including mine, were converted into COVID-19 patient units. We healthcare personnel must wear personal protective equipment, but initially, like many of my colleagues, I was very anxious about caring for patients with COVID-19. We were concerned about how this coronavirus could compromise our own health and the health of our loved ones at home.
Then I heard Pope Francis’ talk during his special blessing on March 27. He reminded us we are all together with Jesus on this journey. “Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them,” Pope Francis said. I could feel the energy of God fill my heart. I needed to give Jesus my fears. Without my faith in the Risen Christ, I wouldn’t be as calm and focused as I am today.
The situation has been overwhelming. We healthcare workers cry when we see COVID patients die alone after fighting so hard to stay alive.
I never experienced war, but in my homeland, Korea, I grew up hearing stories of the Maryknoll sister doctors and nurses helping the sick during the Korean War. I also met Maryknoll Father Gerald Farrell, a medical doctor who served in Korea. Here in New York, as I visit Maryknoll and meet many sisters, brothers and priests who dedicated their lives for my country when we were in need, I am inspired for my own work.
We are in an unknown moment of life with this pandemic. However, I am experiencing the miracle of being united with the other hospital workers. We work together with a directed energy, different than before.
As we attend those in need, we encourage one another. When I feel powerless, I keep moving together with the other medical workers. Most of us come from different countries, cultures and religions, but it seems we are all united in this struggle in the presence of God. We are concerned for one another, asking how we are doing, how our families are making out. Beyond being professionals, we relate to each other as human beings. Together we are fighting to save the precious gift of life. Many at the hospital are mentioning the word “God,” asking God to be with the patients and with all of us.
At home, with my husband Peter and 27-year-old son Paul, I take every precaution to protect them: social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks. Paul has autism and I was afraid he would not understand what is happening. He understands and he wants to embrace me to help me carry my cross. I tell him “not now” and hope he comprehends.
But God is moving and changing all of us. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and son join me in prayer each night. I believe God is listening to each of us in our struggle, for as St. Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? … No, in all these things we have complete victory.” (Romans 8:35, 37)
Featured Image: Serena Sook Lim (seated at left) and her co-workers at North Central Bronx Hospital in New York take a break and encourage each other in caring for patients with COVID-19. (Courtesy of Serena Sook Lim/U.S.)