Nazarene doctor helps battle COVID-19 in Guatemala
René Rivas, a Nazarene doctor from Guatemala, shares how the Lord has allowed him to serve pastoral families, church members, and local families during the COVID-19 quarantine.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. We are past the stage in which we look at the news and the numbers of infections and deaths, and say, "The situation is hard in those countries." We are now living with the pandemic, and those numbers include friends and perhaps even members of our family. And for doctors, those numbers suddenly include some of our patients.
Spending more time at home has allowed me to serve more patients in my clinic, as well as have more contact with the pastors of my district. Together we coordinate the aid plans that we have for pastoral families, church families, as well as families from the communities where our church ministers.
In recent weeks, the cases of people infected with the coronavirus in Guatemala have increased rapidly. This has already caused a large number of infections and about five deaths among our church families. As a doctor and as a member of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries for the Central District of Guatemala, I have been monitoring the health of pastoral families and other Nazarenes.
Some people call me every day or write to me on WhatsApp to inquire about their symptoms. Others are concerned that they have been in contact with infected people. Until two weeks ago, we had referred six patients for testing with four testing positive for the disease.
The first patient was an elderly man. When it was confirmed that he was positive, the family asked me what they could do. They did not want to take him to a national hospital and they did not have the resources to pay for a private hospital. Knowing that their trust was in God, I asked them if they were also willing to trust me as a doctor. They said they would follow the instructions I gave them. With faith in God, we decided to give him treatment at home, and I was monitoring him by phone and video calls to make sure that the medications were administered correctly.
Two weeks ago, I received a call from a patient whom I was monitoring. After finishing the treatment and feeling completely well, I told him that he could reunite with his family. He began to cry and almost made me cry too. As doctors, we are happy when we see the complete recovery of our patients, but this time it was something so special that it made me feel so grateful to God for allowing me to be an instrument in His hands.
What I do with everyone is try to instill confidence in them. There is a lot of uncertainty and fear because they think they are going to die. The number of patients and consultations have increased, and apart from medical recommendations, sometimes I have had to advise them to seek a psychological professional.
It has also been my goal to present the plan of salvation to some who do not yet have a personal relationship with God and to recommend that they place themselves completely in His hands.
I won't deny that I am also afraid of catching it or that the same will happen with my daughter, a specialist who has direct contact with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care room of the hospital where she works. I don't want either of us to spread infection to the rest of the family. In the midst of everything, I believe that we must face the pandemic with faith and with wisdom. We must trust God while also being prudent so as not to become one of the numbers we see daily that stress us.
I thank God because He gave me the mission of being with those who need me. I am not going with medical groups to rural communities but I do follow up and advise patients who do not even I know personally. Where my help is needed, I want to be present. That is how I understand God's call on my life. For now, God wants me to be here, helping these people, even if it's on the phone.