PPE Testimony from the Front Lines

Over the last couple months, nearly every day on the news we have heard about the critical importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the fact that it is life and death for our healthcare workers on the front lines as they treat Covid-19 patients and how difficult it has been – particularly in the early stages of the pandemic – to get all the gear that was needed. My own conversations with nurses and senior care specialists in our congregation had borne this out, as well.

So several weeks ago as we were planning our new worship series, I threw out to the staff the idea of “re-purposing” the phrase PPE since it had become so much a part of our daily vocabulary and let it be the frame that allowed us to talk about Prayerful Practices for Everyday. A couple of people suggested I vet it with some of our own health care professionals to see what they thought. The last thing we wanted to do was to add more stress or pain to the lives of so many of our nurses, pharmacists, aides, therapists, etc. that were having to deal with PPE every day.

I sent out an email to our Healthcare Workers Support & Prayer Group and informed them I was turning them into SPUMC’s very own focus group. The responses I got were overwhelmingly positive and so thoughtful that A) We enthusiastically decided to go ahead with our plans and; B) They became a part of my sermon as I launched our new series, “A Different Kind of PPE: Prayerful Practices for Everyday.” I share them with you here, too, because they gave me another window into their challenging world and because I found them to be so poignantly and spiritually insightful.

I think it’s a good title. PPE covers and protects you and so does prayer!
— Pam, Nurse at JHH

I like your title — not offensive to me at all. What I have to wear at work changes on a daily basis and sometimes makes no sense, (like re-using paper gowns- what is the point?). It might be nice to have something sensible associated with PPE!
— Lynn,  Aide at Brightview Assisted Living (Edgewater)

I love it! (PPE). It’s what our healthcare world revolves around!
— Krystyn, Nurse Practitioner

I have been working full time with Covid patients for a month now. I am not offended by your working title and like it. I was so scared in taking care of my first Covid patient.  I have been doing acute care bedside nursing for over 20 years and never had felt this type of fear before…I prayed to God to help me find the strength and courage to help these people and keep me and my family safe. He has given it to me. I feel this peace inside me when I walk into their rooms. I do what I do and give the best care I can. I look forward to hearing your service Sunday.
— Jennifer, Nurse at AAMC

I’m guessing you were going to give a shout out to healthcare in conjunction with this, so I think that’s great and would be appreciated. I also think there’s a good opportunity to address when you may second guess your faith etc…I think a lot of us [in healthcare] just have to try to trust the physical PPE we don will actually protect us/do its job…does that make sense? In the end, we don it, go forward, pray it works, in spite of some fear and anxiety…
— Alison, Nurse at UMDMC

I like the idea of reusing PPE. I don’t take any offense to the term, and I think you’re making a strong connection. Prayer is a form of spiritual protection. It is something we “practice” or “wear” to guard us from all the ways the world wants to separate us from Jesus. Before I see a person on contact isolation at work (i.e. COVID), I place on a gown, gloves, and mask. Before I start each day, I pray for peace, patience, and read a short devotional. In both cases I’m protecting myself from the dangers that life and work may present. If I were to change my practices, or skip parts of them, I would struggle and place myself at great risk. I think a vulnerable spirit is just as dangerous as running into a COVID positive patient’s room who is coding without any sort of PPE on. Spiritual practices are vital in protecting us from the anxiety and fear that seem to plague so many. When we utilize these protective practices, we will be set apart, leaving others wondering where our peace is found…a perfect time to talk about Jesus 🙂
— Alyssa, Nurse at AAMC