“Healing changes everything” is a statement that I’ve lived by for the past eight years that I’ve been involved with CURE. However, since the impact of COVID-19, I’ve found myself wondering what that statement means when our hospital decides to cancel elective cases and limit the number of patients we see at clinics.
Every Monday and Thursday, CURE Philippines sees an average of 40 kids at free clinics with clubfoot, cleft lip and palate, and other conditions for screening, follow-up appointments, and cast removals. Since Davao City has been placed under a government-mandated community quarantine, we’ve only seen an average of four kids during our free clinics. Most of our patients are unable to enter the city and it begs the question, “How can healing happen now?”
It was on March 15, 2020, that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio declared a community quarantine and, later, a partial city lockdown to protect the city from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Residents were told to stay home and come out only to buy food and medicine or visit the hospital when needed. Since all flights to and from Davao were canceled, people could only leave the city by land, but could not return during the lockdown period. Only those transporting food and other essentials were granted exemption from such rules.
The changes in the community around CURE Philippines was swift and evident. Fewer people are up and about, and the people who are out are required to wear a mask. Establishments like grocery stores have guards standing at the door to spray rubbing alcohol, make customers wash their hands, or give out hand sanitizer before entering the building. There are a few extreme cases of people trying to get around the quarantine, like trying to smuggle themselves in boxes stored in trucks just to pass through Davao City’s border checkpoint.
The spread of the coronavirus and its effects are swift, which is why government policies and orders change nearly every day. Protocols differ across cities, the province, and the region, so it is difficult for officials to bridge the gaps in communication. What is very clear is that our patients, who come from all over Mindanao, find it complicated, if not near impossible, to travel to Davao City now. Moreover, they risk exposure to the virus when they travel through public transportation.
At CURE Philippines, Executive Director Mike Hulland led the staff in a timely, respectful, and obedient response to the new government regulations—a testimony to our hospital’s commitment to caring for our patients and staff members. Our hospital leadership team meets regularly to evaluate the next steps and constantly lifts their concerns in prayer. The rest of the staff trusts the wisdom of the authorities, obeys protocols, and is attentive to any changes and developments. It sounds easy enough but, for a very socially tight-knit culture, the rules implemented during this time are hard to follow.
Filipinos are accustomed to community. It seems like our main love language is quality time. However, we must play our part and trust the government authorities and that means minimizing staff to only the front liners and essential personnel. Needless to say, the hospital has become a much more solemn place—not the usual business with worship music playing and the laughter of people mixed, at times, with sounds of children in the hallways.
There may be panic ensuing from rumors of the shortage of food and resources, but what we will never have a shortage of is time to pray, especially for our patients who live in underprivileged areas most affected by this crisis. Our Spiritual Director Pastor PJ reminds us that we can trust God because “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) We are empowered to obey and pray for our leaders. Finally, we must listen to instructions amidst the fast-paced turn of events, even if we have the tendency to complain. However, as believers, we are called to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19)
The staff at CURE Philippines desires to set an example of what it’s like to pray, trust, and obey because we serve a God who has the ultimate authority. The more that things may seem out of control, the more God manifests His control. We should be equally more willing to be vessels for Him to show His power to our community, especially to our patients. By exercising obedience to regulations, we keep our patients safe from exposure. We consistently sanitize our facilities, keep our emergency room staffed with team members that can diagnose and give proper referrals, and help transport our essential personnel to keep them from exposure. Most importantly, we contact our patients to pray for them and see how we could help them in any way, during this time of quarantine.
Time for prayer is now, and we at CURE Philippines join the rest of the CURE network and the body of Christ in praying for our communities and for the world. Our spiritual ministry department is devoted to sharing devotionals for our staff to engage with, especially those working from home or taking vacation leave to stay in with their families. We may not be seeing our patients regularly, but we are praying for them daily.
In the midst of fear and uncertainty, how can our CURE network in the Philippines still stay true to its mission? Could it be that, while physical healing within our facility may be less visible during this season, God is moving as a spiritual Healer in our lives? In every staff member, there has been more room to grow spiritually by trusting God and obeying His Word to not be anxious in everything but letting every request be made known to God in prayer. Amidst this lockdown, I rejoice knowing that God continues to heal our hearts as He gives us opportunities during this pandemic to submit to His authority and continue to serve others with joy.
For an update on how CURE Philippines is using empty rooms to help other hospitals and staff, click here.
For COVID-19 virus updates on CURE Philippines and other CURE hospitals, check our blog COVID-19 Response blog, under Our Stories/News, or click here.