In New York City, the epicenter of America’s COVID-19 outbreak, tensions are running high.
Medical facilities are overworked and understaffed.
But as New York hospitals struggle, Christian organizations are stepping up to help.
Samaritan’s Purse, a U.S.-based Christian relief agency that works all around the world, recently arrived in New York City to set up an emergency response site in Central Park.
Volunteers in face masks and other protective equipment have worked hard to set up a field hospital on the park’s East Meadow lawn. The field hospital is strategically located near one of the city’s Mount Sinai hospital facilities.
“The United States has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the world, and we’re working in New York City, at the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.,” wrote Samaritan’s Purse.
“Many local medical facilities are overwhelmed.”
COVID-19 has already taken thousands of lives in New York City and nurses and doctors are struggling to keep up with each new wave of infection.
With “dozens of disaster relief specialists, including doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, on the ground in the city,” Samaritan’s Purse is providing essential services to help the city stay on its feet amid the pandemic.
“There’s lots of [coronavirus] cases here in New York and a lot of people that need help,” observed Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, a team leader for the Samaritan’s Purse COVID-19 Response Team.
“This is honestly the most improbable place we’ve ever been,” Tenpenny admitted. “I never would have guessed we’d come to New York City with something like this. But New York never thought it would be dealing with a pandemic, either.”
“The hospitals all over the city are filling up and they need as much help as they can get. That’s why we’re here.”
Tenpenny asserted that, even though Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization, “we provide care to anybody at anytime without regard to who they are, just if they have need.”
The charity has worked hard to mitigate the effects of disaster and disease since its founding in 1970.
Prior to setting up the emergency Central Park hospital, the COVID-19 Response Team had already set up a field hospital in Cremona, Italy where coronavirus infections had overwhelmed Italian medical staff.
Even though the New York City hospital has only been in place for a few days, the organization’s medical staff has already treated about a dozen patients.
“[The hospital has been] filling up steadily,” reported Shelly Kelly, a nurse with Samaritan’s Purse.
Kelly admitted that it may not be long before all 68 beds in the field hospital are full, but she remains optimistic about the ways she and her team will be able to help the beleaguered city.
“Yes, we are tired. Yes, we are giving it 110 percent every single day and every minute of every day—but I think people are relieved to have the…hospital open and have some cushion [for other hospitals],” she said.
“I certainly think I have a high level of concern in treating these patients because it puts us all at risk,” Kelly continued. “[If] we are sick, [we] possibly expose our coworkers right here in this field hospital.”
“We use Personal Protective Equipment whether we are in the hot zone or the cold zone and we do a lot of hand washing and stay away from each other as far as we possibly can.”
Regardless of the risks, Tenpenny, Kelly, and their colleagues are committed to providing high-quality care for COVID-19 patients – and they’re spreading hope to each doctor and patient they meet.
“I think we have come up with some creative ways outside of the box to meet this pandemic head-on here in New York,” Kelly said. “I’m very impressed with the way people are continuing to get up every morning and go to work.”
“The challenges have been very interesting as well in getting this set up in Central Park, [but] the support that we have had here is incredible.”
Please pray for the field hospital and its staff as they take on the challenge of COVID-19 in New York City! Pray that they will have many opportunities to spread the Gospel and care for their patients spiritual needs as well as physical ailments.
If you’d like to support the Samaritan’s Purse field hospitals in New York City and Cremona, Italy, click here.