Dr Prabhu of Duncan Hospital reflects on a challenging 2020 with fresh hope for 2021:
When 2020 began, most of us would have assumed that life would continue at the same pace. News of this virus from Wuhan seemed too far away to be of concern. Numerous epidemics of swine flu, avian flu, H1N1 had come and gone. Why would this virus be any different? The coming months would prove all of us wrong.
Looking back at 2020, I feel it was probably the most challenging year for us. At Duncan Hospital, there had been a leadership change with very senior leaders replaced by a relatively young person with less experience. We were well placed financially with a good team of doctors, nurses and other paramedical and support staff and numerous projects and plans laid out neatly to be smoothly executed by the team. The months that followed threw all our plans out the window.
I would like to share a few things that encouraged and blessed me in this challenging year. I hope they will bless you too as you read this blog.
Dependence on prayer
The whole year has been a time when we grew close to God, depending on Him. As the Covid crisis began, we started to meet in a small group (ranging from 5 to 20) in the large recreation hall. We met at around 6 in the evening after work. We worshipped God and spent time praying for various needs. I used that time to vent my feelings to God. I cried, I pleaded, and by the end of the month, my prayers were one of complete hopelessness. All I could pray was that I had no more wisdom or strength left in me but to depend on my Lord. Every time I surrendered, I felt strength and peace fill me. I believe all of us returned home each evening with a lot of peace and comfort in our hearts. I could see that the calmness and strength we found in prayer spread to the rest of the team. In time we could testify that prayer did work as we saw over 60 staff turn Covid positive but recover almost miraculously with none needing oxygen or ventilation.
There are Barnabases all around us
I remember a tough period when we had just finished a staff meeting. It had not ended well with tensions because salaries were not able to be paid on time. The mood all around us was of frustration, fear and resentment. Though a very small number of the staff were disgruntled, the vibes had spread within the team. We, the management, had spent hours wondering how to tide over the crises. I guess I was walking around with my body language screaming defeat and disappointment. I was sitting in the operating theatre lounge when a senior OT staff sat beside me. I remember working with him as a young medical officer from 2003 until today. He gently told me not to worry and that things would be fine. I instantly choked with my eyes filling up with tears as I listened to him comforting me. I remember him gently guide me during my early surgeries, and here he was doing it again. Feeling a lot like Anton Ego with that first mouthful of ratatouille, I felt so much better. I remember a young couple telling me that they were with me. I remember opening my email to read an email promising the hospital much needed financial support and telling me not to hesitate in asking for more. I stared at the computer screen, my eyes blurring thanking God for such people, people who genuinely cared for us.
Expect the unexpected
Right from the beginning of the Covid crisis, one of the biggest fears we had was of the hospital being converted into a Covid centre. We feared this might deter or prevent people with other medical issues from coming to us for treatment. When the local administration did reach out to us, they allowed us to run the hospital while only providing a single floor for Covid care. They allowed us to work with almost nil interference, which helped us care for both Covid and non-Covid patients. They supported us in numerous ways and were extremely appreciative of our work. I saw Gods grace in the way this unique relationship with the Govt developed.
The last year has stories that could fill a book, but I saw God’s grace and mercy lead us through this storm in every story. We survived the storm with no major casualty, and we look towards 2021, hoping that it will be better and more predictable. Even if the storm did turn into a hurricane, I now know I can depend on God to take us to the other shore.