We had the opportunity to treat patients with Covid-19 in a field hospital in Ho Chi Minh City during the Tet or Lunar New Year holidays.
Knowing that I volunteered to serve in a hospital, some people asked me, “Now that the number of patients has dropped dramatically, why don’t you go home and celebrate Tet with your family?”
It is true that everyone wants to be with their family on Lunar New Year and so do I. However, I think of the Covid-19 patients who are being treated in the hospital where there are even only a few patients left, and I continue to want to stay and celebrate the national day with them because I hope that our presence can partly compensate for their feelings of loneliness and the absence of loved ones during the Tet holiday.
Indeed, the Church still lives the spirit of synodality and leaves no one behind, even if only a few remain in makeshift hospitals. Although society appears to have overcome the utter devastation of the pandemic, many people, including the elderly and lonely, are in dire need of attention and care.
During the festival, anyone could go home to celebrate Tet with their families, but in makeshift hospitals, patients who have not yet been cured still have to stay for further treatment.
Patients infected with Covid-19 are the ones who urgently need the attention of their families at this time. The family is the fulcrum and the best remedy to help them mentally overcome this dangerous disease.
All day, patients only hear the sounds of heart rate monitors and other medical equipment instead of the noises of noisy life
They are kept in quarantine, so their spouses, children and grandchildren cannot be there to look after them. Whenever I have the opportunity to talk to patients, I am told about their desire to go home during Tet.
Indeed, when I entered the isolation ward of the hospital, I felt that there was a separation between the isolation ward and the outside world. In the isolation ward, all the patients became desperately lonely because they had no relatives around. They only received attention from medical staff and volunteers like us.
Life in the quarantine room is far from everyday life. All day, patients only hear the sounds of heart rate monitors and other medical equipment instead of the noises of noisy life. Outside of doctors’ and nurses’ visiting hours, patients rarely talk to anyone else. As a result, they are easily overwhelmed with so much worry, confusion, and fear that pessimism about illness barely makes them sleep or touch their food. Sometimes they feel abandoned, terribly alone and completely hopeless. They urgently need someone who can support them emotionally.
During the pandemic, not only were people battling the coronavirus, but they were resisting the temptation to quit and give up. Only those who had an indomitable will and spirit could easily avert the danger of dying, and only those who really had a burning desire to live and saw the meaning of life could overcome the destruction of loneliness and boredom.
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I also provide pastoral care for bedridden patients and I realize how extremely fragile but precious human life is. Through their stories or their moving eyes, I see patients still eager to live. For them, the present life is indeed an extremely precious gift. Some people said, “I am praying for recovery from my illness so that I can return to celebrate Tet with my family.
Indeed, God gives life to people and this gift is now too precious for the patients. Even though they are in the mouth and cut up, God is still with them. Even when they have to carry helpless bodies to bed, God is still in their own frail and weak bodies.
Standing by their beds, I continued to pray to God for the healing of the sick. In union with the healing prayers of the entire Church, I believe that God has heard and granted many blessings to the souls and bodies of all patients and to the medical personnel who serve the patients.
Miracles still happen in the hospital’s two intensive care units. Every day, I see positive changes in the physical and mental health of the patients I see. They are wonderful because I truly experience God healing them day by day.
From now on, their life will change from anxiety, fear and disappointment to hope and gratitude.
Many patients I first met seemed so unwell and barely touched their food and drink. But the next day they could eat a little, then the following days they ate more, slept better and were no longer on ventilators.
It’s nice to see sick people getting better every day. At that time, I said goodbye to a few patients who were discharged from the hospital. From now on, their life will change from anxiety, fear and disappointment to hope and gratitude.
I thank God with gratitude for giving me the opportunity to care for patients so that I can realize that many people are in urgent need of attention and care. I thank God for always being with and healing all patients.
I thank God profusely that the people I met have gained more faith and hope. May God continue to accompany medical personnel to help patients overcome this pandemic. May God of Spring continue to bless everyone.
Joseph Nguyen Van Duc is a Jesuit in Vietnam. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published by tgpsaigon.net here.
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