“We live in a completely overwhelming situation”, a worker of an evangelical nursing home says. Personnel and material is scarce and solidary initiatives have been strarted to provide resources.
Nursing homes have become one of the most vulnerable places in this coronavirus crisis. In Spain, the residences for the elderly have registered high mortality rates.
Noemí Bello is an occupational therapist at the Betania evangelical nursing home in Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Barcelona. She describes what they are experiencing as “apocalyptic”.
The Covid-19 has brought drastic changes in the dynamics of the nursing homes. No visits or activities are allowed, residents are confined almost permanently in their rooms, and those who are sick are isolated.
LACK OF PERSONNEL AND MATERIAL
One of the biggest challenges is the shortage of health workers, who are also affected by the virus or in preventive quarantine. In order to make up for these absences, the staff of the Betanianursgin home had to hire people in a hurry.
“We look like astronauts because of the clothing, and there are people who, seeing the conditions of exposure to the virus, decide to leave. Even part of the staff felt vulnerable when they came back to their homes and feared for their children and older relatives”, Bello told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
The materials available are very scarce. “We have created a network of artisan seamstresses. People in the churches, neighbours, have been mobilised to provide us with robes, hats, masks ... Right now at least we can get dressed”, she explains.
“NO TIME TO MOURN”
Another challenge the residences face is how to manage grief. “There is no time to mourn, everything goes so fast. In a residence, there are other severe pathologies besides the coronavirus, people have died naturally too. But the coronavirus is so destructive, so fast, that we were schocked”.
“With the distance measures and the stress of daily work, there is no time to say goodbye or honor someone. We are working, but we cry a lot because it is very difficult. We live in a completely overwhelming situation”, Bello says.
PRAYER AND DEPENDENCE ON GOD
This daily challenge is leading to a dependence on God. “With a colleague here we prayed together, saying, 'Lord, this is beyond us'. Something that helps us is seeing Jesus in the text that says: My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working”.
Bello asks “believers to pray for a union in the team and for a stronger trust in the Lord. May God give us more love, because the elderly only see our faces. May we have a good attitude and a smile despite the pressure of the situation”.
“And we also pray for provision, both spiritual and material, that we can have both human and material resources”, she adds.
EVANGELICAL NURSING HOME ASKS FOR HELP
Another example of fighting against the Covid-19 and its consequences, both on the staff and on the elderly, is the evangelical residence of La Granja, in the Andalusian city of Linares, Spain.
There, “a good part of the staff was tested positive and others are under quarantine, so they are in need of hiring specialised staff”, the Andalusian Evangelical Council has said.
The Christian body “encourages all to collaborate with an offering in favor of the La Granja nursing home, where our elders have a home”.
They also call believers to pray “for the personnel affected by the virus, for medical and protective resources and materials, and for the provision of funds necessary to meet the upcoming payments”.
EVANGELICAL SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE
In the midst of all these difficulties, initiatives also emerge seeking to help those who are suffering during this crisis.
One of them is Zaragoza Solidaria, started by Miguel Arbizu, an civil servant who works in the field of public procurement at the Zaragoza City Council. Miguel is a member of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Zaragoza.
“If hospitals need a product, they cannot directly access a supplier and buy it, they have to do a process that can take weeks. I saw that this system could be shortcut”, he says.
In just a few days, the Zaragoza Solidaria initiative has bought tens of thousands of items of basic sanitary material and sent them all to hospitals and residences in the regions of Aragon, Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia.
The Zaragoza City Council has publicised the initiative through its official social media accounts.
“JESUS EXPECTS US TO HELP”
“For me, all of this is putting the gospel into action. In this situation, Christians must measure up and live up to what society expects of us. One day everyone will be held accountable for everything that is done, and Christians will also be asked what we did during the most devastating pandemic our country has had”, he told Protestante Digital.
Arbizu believes that “helping the health workers who are working to save lives is what Jesus expects of us. What would be inconsistent would be to say that we are light but then shut ourselves up in our temples when the darkest night comes”.
Furthermore, “it is very nice to see how so many believing people, from different denominations, and non-believers as well, have become involved in the same need”, he concludes.