Stories & Commentaries

Profiles of Adventists on the Frontlines of COVID-19 Response

Six essential workers share their experiences—and what keeps them going—during the pandemic.

These six Adventists work in essential roles during this time of uncertainty and crisis. Each one answered a series of questions. Here are, In their own words (with editing for clarity only), glimpses into their lives and faith. We thank them and many others for their service, and encourage our readers to pray for them.—Editors.

Elfred Deynes

Elfred Deynes, Respiratory Therapist

All About “Us”

Name: Elfred Deynes

Location: Miami, Florida

Profession: Respiratory Therapist

What has been the toughest part of the past few months?

For me, the toughest part of the last few months include:

  1. Looking at the uncertainty and exhaustion in the faces of many health care providers while serving the very critical patients on mechanical ventilators, knowing that the virus could be lethal and if we aren’t careful enough the same thing could happen to us or to a family member.
  2. Another difficult adjustment has been wearing multiple layers of personal protective gear (PPE) — experiencing difficulty breathing with the face mask and trying to document with three pairs of gloves and a foggy face shield while drenched in my own sweat for many interrupted hours at a time without breaks.
  3. I had a few experiences when we were running out of medical equipment so we needed to prioritize, knowing that even though one patient needed it there were others who needed it more. 
  4. Our own protective gear supply was running so low at times that we had to hang our gowns, place them in plastic bags, and reuse them several times. (Things are better now as we have more protective gear available.) Elfred Deynes

What has been the response to your video(s) on how to use PPE and protect oneself?

The response was great! Many people were appreciative; they felt that the simple information given to them was very useful and helpful.  [Here are two videos: Spanish1 and Spanish2.]

Where do you get your strength?

My parents and grandmother raised me to be a person who cares about others. They showed me that there isn’t anything more rewarding than serving and caring. I think most of my strength comes precisely from my immediate family and from a principle I learned from their example: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself, but love God above all things.”

Specifically during these days, how does your faith play a part?

My faith is the one thing that keeps my engine going much like gasoline. I can only move forward when I press on the gas pedal of faith. I know that God is watching over me and that I don’t need to be afraid, “risking my life” is nothing compare to “The One that Gave His.” I’m confident in His promises!

What else would you like to share?

I would like people to know that we need to love and to care for one another. We have to learn more about working together. In times like this it’s imperative that we learn the true meaning of the word unity; in times like this it’s all about us. In health care we are learning that the only way we can make it to the next shift is by practicing selflessness, togetherness, and team work. Society in general needs to work the same way. 

Amy Miller

Amy Miller, ICU Nurse

Putting on My Game Face

Name: Amy Miller

Location: Hagerstown, Maryland

Profession: ICU Nurse

I work in the ICU (intensive care unit) caring for positive COVID-19 patients. I am proud to say I am an essential worker, even though some days it seems overwhelming and scary!

What has been the toughest part of the past few months?

It is difficult for me to put into words what has been the toughest part. I would say one of the hardest things has been telling family members of very sick patients, "I can't let you visit your loved one." We do make special arrangements for those who are dying, but then the family has to stay on the outside of the room and look in through the glass door. I can't imagine the anguish, not being able to be there when a loved one is sick. This is one of the reasons my job is so important. Providing the comfort and support because family can't be present at this time.

I also miss hugging my parents!

Where do you get your strength?

For sure from Jesus! "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). This is my mantra before going to work. It really does help me put on my "game face" and get ready for whatever is being thrown at me. Psalm 91 has also been very comforting to me.

How does your faith play a part?

Some days my faith is strong, and other days not so much! I believe, and know God is in control; He doesn't want any of His children to suffer. Because I know God is in control, I try not to be anxious.

I don’t really have any advice except to say: “Wash your hands!”

Jason Inaga

Jason Inanga, Courier, FedEx Express

Do Not Panic

Name : Jason Inanga

Location: Dallas, Texas

Profession : Courier at FedEx Express

I have been classified as an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic as we couriers are vital to both the U.S. and global supply chains.

Toughest part of the past few months?

  1. The fear of coming home with the virus and negatively impacting my wife and children.
  2. The very real fear of unknowingly handling a package that may have been in an environment where the virus has been present.
  3. Driving past shut businesses and realizing the economic impact is real.
  4. I miss the physical church experience.

Where do you get your strength?

I get my strength from God as well as from having a supportive wife and children.

My faith has played a big part in keeping me calm, learning to trust and believe the Word of God. I’ve been able to use it as an opportunity to remind people (non-Christians) that life is real and that we are living to see the fulfillment of prophecy.

What do you want people to know from your experience?

Apart from prayer, my other line of defense has been paying more attention to hygiene. I want people to recognize that life is real! Do not take it for granted. Tests and trials will come our way. Do not panic. There is always a solution to situations that we face (Psalm 46:1) .

Deirdre Rivera-Martin

Deirdre Rivera-Martin, Neonatal Intensive Care Registered Nurse

Be Kind to One Another

Name: Deirdre Rivera-Martin

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Profession: Neonatal Intensive Care Registered Nurse

You are considered an essential worker. What has been the toughest part of the past few months?

It’s been tough during this pandemic. I think the toughest has been the never ending, continual changes in the policies for healthcare workers at large in regard to their personal safety equipment (PPE). We’re still obligated to provide the highest level of care, but with limited resources. It's scary. It goes against everything I know since I became a nurse to not practice proper policy since COVID-19 has happened. We have to cut corners in order to extend the limited supplies we have in order to do our job. It's very frustrating. I don't feel safe.

From where do you draw strength?

I gain my strength from several places. One being my 33 years as an experienced RN and working in an ICU setting for so many years — you have to have the mental stamina and endurance to cope with such a stressful environment in general. My peer support on the unit, they are my second family. When you do 12 hours shifts, you really spend a lot of time with others and become a great source of support. Lastly, my faith background. Every morning, I spend time in worshiping my God and getting myself fueled for what the day is going to bring.

Does your faith play a part in your life, especially these days?

It plays a huge part in my work place and generally in my life. It's my source of strength, peace and a safe place I can go to reconnect with God and get refilled after I’ve given myself to serving others all day long.

What would you like people to know?

That medical professionals are human beings. We have family. We have feelings. We hurt too. It gets tiring be verbally insulted and treated poorly by patients and their families.

I want people to know this: we go to work and take of your loves who are sick. That is why they are at the hospital. I might have a child or family at home sick, but I leave every day to come and take care of other people’s loved ones. Someone would say, "That's your job." Yes, it is my job to serve and care, but that doesn't give anyone any right to be mean and rude to those of us who are trying to provide care. We are doing our best; just be kind to us.

Edward Garcia

Edward Garcia, Respiratory Care Practitioner

Community Care

Name: Edward Garcia

Location: Moreno Valley, California

Profession: Respiratory Care Practitioner

What has been challenging during the past few months?

  1. Preparing for the surge. My team was relying on me to assure we had the proper amount of equipment, supplies, and staffing. Aligning these goals to that of the national and statewide projection, as well as that of the organization was a challenge.
  2. Not finding enough equipment, supplies, and staffing for the surge. Since it was hitting everyone at once, we were competing against other organizations for the same things. We had to be creative in our approach in equipment and supply management.
  3. Assuring the staff felt (and continue to feel) safe. We developed a mask with filters to provide our staffand the rest of the hospital due to the shortage of N95 masks and PAPR equipment. VIDEO LINK. We also developed different methods of providing care to our patients while maintaining a safe environment for our team to function in. including processes for filtration and reprocessing. My leadership team and myself made sure we have been available 24/7 for any team members who needed to talk or decompress. I was glad we were able to secure a “safe spot” for our team to go to decompress and have some quiet time.

Where do you get your strength?

Being in the field for almost 30 years, my instincts and adrenaline kick in. I have a saying on my wall, that reads: “We were made for such a time as this.” This brings me hope in knowing that this is what we are made for. Being able to spend some time in quietness while driving to and from work, especially with the decreased traffic, has been wonderful!

I have a good support system at home from my family, and having them understand that this is my duty and honor to serve makes it easier, especially since I had been working almost non-stop for more than three weeks on phone, email, texts, Zoom meetings, and more.

I also write. I have always had a dream to write a book, and in any spare time or purposefully putting time aside, I have been writing stories that I have been blessed to share with my friends and family, as well online.

Finally, I have a great church community at Crosswalk [Seventh-day Adventist Church] that provides a space to feel safe, to share ones’ stories, and to assist in praying over not just me, but the entire church community.

How does your faith play a part?

My faith has kept me centered spiritually and mentally. And if it weren’t for our amazing church community of Crosswalk that was able to develop amazing content to keep us connected, I don’t know where I’d be. I have been able to connect with so many folks who are hurting, anxious, depressed, etc., from all of this, and it has allowed me to exercise my faith. Being able to speak to someone, text with them, send words of encouragement, write them a little note — whatever it may be — has been a bigger blessing for me than anything else.

What advice would you give others?

Take time for yourself, trust that God will take care of it all, and remember that we know how the story ends — God always wins!

Mark Feldbush

Mark Feldbush, Hospital Chaplain

Not Alone in This

Name: Mark Feldbush

Location: Dayton, Ohio

Profession: Hospital Chaplain and CPE Educator 

Are you considered an essential worker?

As a health care worker, I am considered essential. During this COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to provide direct patient care was restricted to emergent situations. This was so that we didn’t spread infection to other patients. The bulk of our work focused on staff care for those who have been at the hospital and providing care under incredibly stressful circumstances. Our team of chaplains and student chaplains facilitated a respite care area where hospital staff could participate in brief self-care and spiritual care activities to renew their spirits.

For you, what has been the toughest part of the past few months?

The uncertainty and frequently shifting schedules have made this time difficult. This helped me understand better how routine helps to provide a sense of stability.

Where do you get your strength?

I draw my internal strength from a number of sources. They include time with my wife and daughters; talking with friends over the phone or video-conferencing platforms; and listening to music. Music touches my soul in deep ways and helps me give expression to the emotional experiences I face. During this pandemic, these resources have been even more meaningful for me.

How does your faith play a part?

My faith is a key resource in helping me navigate this challenging time. I draw comfort from Psalm 23. I’m reminded that the path of righteousness goes through both green pastures, and through the darkest valley. Trial and adversity are part of life. I take great comfort in the image of the Lord as my Good Shepherd who goes beside me to guide, comfort and protect me through these difficult times.

Based on your recent experiences, what advice would you give?

I would encourage folks to slow down and be present with the emotions that get stirred up in our hearts in times like this. God created our emotions to provide important information for us about what’s going well in our lives, and where we may be getting out of balance. Those feelings are normal. I would also encourage folks to listen to the medical experts who know epidemiology. They are the experts and will have wisdom and council to see us through. Above all, remember, Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us. We are not alone in this.

Mark Feldbush 2

In prayer, Mark Feldbush gives a "no touch" blessing of the hands to a healthcare worker.