by Paul Hudson
Following are key priorities for healthcare in resource-poor areas, with actionable suggestions that address missional areas of:
Growth in Christ
Integration of Faith and Practice of Faith
Building Teams that Include the Church
Preventive Practices: Hygiene/Handwashing
In communicating the importance of hygiene—and specifically handwashing—during this crisis, develop a few solid biblical messages, e.g., about what is ‘clean’ and how this purity relates to hygiene. Engage believers and churches to ensure the right messaging. Build community, church, and staff teams to deliver the message. Select and mentor some youth and church leaders.
Staff Education Concerning COVID-19
Emphasize Biblical hope, calling, and sacrifice, in the midst of uncertainty. Engage believers and churches to ensure the right messaging. Build a staff development team to be both scientific and pastoral. Mentor and empower staff leaders to educate and grow others.
Triage and Open Air Measures
Understand that Christ did not heal all. Determine care of patients by need, not by position or wealth. Engage healthcare staff with ethics of serving without enough resources. Build triage tents or shelters
for healthcare, and build temporary places to do hospice-type care if needed. Develop local leaders by bringing together volunteers with building experts.
Protection of Staff
Conduct regular prayer and Bible study on relevant topics, such
as caring for the Body of Christ and “one another” passages. Home supplies will be needed by staff to care for home needs when they are called to extra measures in serving in healthcare. Involve teams including the local church to meet need for supplies to protect staff, such as locally produced masks, face shields, waterproof aprons, etc. It is best if care of the local staff is seen as coming from local leaders (to decrease a sense of superiority and hierarchy).
Avoidance of Nosocomial Spread
Growth in Christ will be realized in caring for others (the concept of being a watchman). In integrating faith and practice, it will help
to understand excellence as it pertains to our faith and works. Physical barriers, as well as personal protection are critical for teams. Encourage teambuilding with concepts such as “it is the responsibility of everyone” and “success in this is dependent upon accountability within the team.” It will be better if lessons are taught by local leaders rather than expats (they are better in contextualizing).
Help everyone understand that care is being part of the body of Christ. This is an opportunity to break down walls dividing health
care and other ministries. Get churches involved in home-based care. Involve teams from churches for outreach, compassion ministries, and prayer coverage. In-home care offers another chance to develop local leaders in the community.
Avoid Burnout of Staff (both Mission and Local)
Where possible, hire extra people, carefully manage staff scheduling, sick days, and rest days. Consider local believers to
fill the role of chaplains to the staff, and use imagination for other creative ideas. Together with the local church, build teams to consider creative approaches to developing and keeping margin in the midst of confusion. Church can be central to ministering to the staff, and can build hearts of compassion and service. Recognize the need to care for staff and colleagues in order to prolong service and health of the team. Lead by compassion.
Shift to Essential Services
Prayerfully consider “what is a just or righteous approach to “essential”?. Engage the community both as professionals, as well as religious leaders. Seek assistance of church leaders to differentiate essential vs. nonessential services by prioritizing the needs of the community served. Discern when nonessential services actually limit essential services.