Coming home at midnight because of COVID-19: The unsung heroes
Doctors and nurses have rightly been hailed for their heroic work in the fight against COVID-19. But what we don’t often see is the men and women supporting these frontline heroes – the people behind the scenes who carry out tasks just as vital.
We speak to Immanuel*, a healthcare administrator working in a hospital’s emergency preparedness and response department, for a glimpse at an often thankless and unseen frontier of the COVID-19 battle. His name has been changed for confidentiality.
“We’re willing to do things without being acknowledged, but behind-the-scenes workers need encouragement too!” cried Immanuel.
As an administrator, Immanuel’s day-to-day work prior to COVID-19 included planning for emergencies like disease outbreaks and terror attacks to ensure that plans are in place when the time calls for it.
But when the first case of COVID-19 was reported, he realised “how easily man’s plans can crumble”.
Though he and his team had come up with measures way before the virus started spreading, they found that major changes would inevitably crop up and force them to revise their plans.
We’ve been working for 10-15 hours every day without a break.
“Things are changing continuously and we need to adapt to these changes quickly. New developments mean new requirements,” Immanuel explained. “We’re required to learn on the spot, so we’ve been working for 10-15 hours every day without a break.”
He is currently in charge of his hospital’s temperature-taking procedure, among other responsibilities.
“Not many know this, but it actually takes a lot of time, team effort and sacrifices to pull off such measures,” he said. “It’s not just about putting a few tables together and asking people to line up.
“There’s a lot of considerations involved, like how will this affect our manpower and other workflows. We also need to plan what to do with those who have a temperature – do we have space to accommodate them?”
He continued: “At first, I felt really discouraged. I asked myself, why must this happen? As a family man, I felt even more frustrated because COVID-19 occurred around Chinese New Year. Instead of being able to spend time with my family, I had to sacrifice family time to be at work.”
But he shared what keeps him going: “Similar to what was said in the book of Esther, I believe there’s a reason why I was appointed at such a time as this. My desire is to honour God at my work, and be a blessing to those around me regardless of how I feel.”
Immanuel concluded that he will choose to remain faithful to the work God has given him, knowing that his reward is not found in earthly praise but “a much greater one in heaven”.
RECEIVING PEACE THROUGH PRAYER
“A verse I’ve been holding onto and praying is Psalm 91,” he shared.
Even though Immanuel doesn’t have as much exposure to infected patients as doctors or nurses do, the risk of infection is still there given that he works in a hospital.
“This verse paints a picture of how we have protection under God’s wings, and it reminds us that He is our refuge. For years, I’ve made it a point to incorporate Psalm 91 into my morning prayer as a reminder not to take safety and protection for granted.”
Just recently when he was highly stressed, Immanuel recounted how a colleague reminded him of God’s love and protection through a card with Psalm 91 written on it: “That was a moment when I was very touched by God. He was showing me that He knows what I’m going through, and He’s my very present help in times of need.”
Despite the uncertainty and exhaustion, Immanuel is anchored by the knowledge that God is sovereign – it is God who provides him assurance and security.
“God is stronger than my situation – this is a truth I can firmly lean on,” he said.
Immanuel also attributes this peace to prayer, a discipline that is not easy to keep up during a time like this.
Prayer is the greatest weapon we have against the enemy.
He said: “I reach home close to midnight almost every night… I just end up crashing and falling asleep. So the morning journey to work has become even more precious since it’s really the only time I have to properly focus on and read the Bible.
“Praying and reading the Bible daily helped anchor me. It’s a strong foundation that can stand against the trials of this busy season.
“It’s very important to continuously pray and equip ourselves in prayer daily. I believe prayer is the greatest weapon we have against the enemy. Prayer for the safety of Singapore and healthcare workers will help with the situation.”
Let’s support our heroes behind the scenes by playing our own roles faithfully. It can be as simple as being gracious about measures that might inconvenience us or showing kindness to those around us.
And as we do so, let’s keep both the frontlines and the rearguard in consistent prayer.
THINK + TALK
- Have you ever wondered why you might be in your workplace or school?
- How do you think God is using you to be a blessing there?
- Who is someone working behind the scenes whom you can bless this week?