Hope Rises on the Frontlines

11th February 2021

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Samaritan’s Purse brings high-quality care to COVID-19 patients and support to exhausted frontline workers in Los Angeles County as the pandemic continues.

Our medical team worked around the clock to care for COVID-19 patients.

Our medical team worked around the clock to care for COVID-19 patients.

For almost a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and devastated communities around the world—with more than 100 million cases reported globally. The overall impact of the outbreak is staggering. In the United States, case numbers have surpassed 27 million with close to 500,000 deaths. Los Angeles County alone has reported more than 1.8 million cases and some 17,000 deaths.

As coronavirus cases continued to rise in Los Angeles County early this year, Lancaster City Mayor R. Rex Parris and Antelope Valley Hospital CEO Ed Mirzabegian requested that Samaritan’s Purse deploy an Emergency Field Hospital to bring relief to the northern part of the county. On Jan. 16, after a cross-country airlift using our DC-8 aircraft, Samaritan’s Purse opened a 54-bed mobile unit in Lancaster to care for patients affected by the deadly virus.

‘We Are Hope Holders’

Despite running low on adrenaline, frontline workers—nurses, doctors, others—continue to boldly combat this far-reaching medical emergency. As we partner with Antelope Valley Hospital, our teams are not only bringing relief to the patients, but they are also bringing relief to fatigued medical workers overwhelmed by the COVID-19 crisis. Many had not seen a reprieve since the beginning of the pandemic.

“God gave me the vision that we are hope holders. When we arrive on the ground after a disaster, the people, staff, patients and community don’t even know what to do with hope,” shared Kelly Sites, medical director for the Los Angeles County COVID-19 response. “They can’t manage to hold it right now, so we bring in the hope, and we hold it for them until they are strong enough for us to hand it over to them. That’s what we are here to do.”

Our facility, a non-intensive unit for those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, is situated in the parking lot of Antelope Valley Hospital. Our staff is hard at work; tirelessly bringing oxygen support and around-the-clock care to patients requiring intense medical supervision. All the while, our actions remind Antelope Valley Hospital staff that they are not alone or forgotten and God loves them.

More than 60 disaster assistance response specialists served on the frontlines at our facility.

More than 60 disaster assistance response specialists served on the frontlines at our facility.

“We are here to shine the light of Christ through our actions, if we get that opportunity. We will pray for them, and we tell them often that we do,” Kelly explained. “God will use us as a conduit to spread His peace, love, hope, and refreshing grace to this hospital staff and to the patients.”

The Antelope Valley Hospital emergency room is the third busiest in the state of California; they are the only full-service hospital in the northern part of Los Angeles County—a lifeline for almost one million people. When we arrived, the hospital was down 175-200 staff members and area coronavirus cases continued to spike. Their emergency room was running at maximum capacity, with some 30-40 patients waiting in the hallways for beds.

“Help from Samaritan’s Purse was tremendously on time,” said Ed Mirzabegian, Antelope Valley Hospital CEO. “Staff were tired; we had many nurses and frontline workers who were out sick because of COVID. When Samaritan’s Purse started here, it put a calmness to everything. Right now, people are getting relief. It’s been a great experience for us.”

Responding to COVID-19

Our team provides compassionate care in Jesus’ Name

Our team provides compassionate care in Jesus’ Name

Now, almost a month into our time in California, Samaritan’s Purse nurses and doctors remain committed to bringing emergency relief to patients stricken with COVID-19. Mohammad is one of more than 150 patients so far to have received care at our Los Angeles County field hospital. Upon arrival, his oxygen levels crashed and he was immediately surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses who bravely join him in the fight against COVID-19.

“At one point, I thought I was going to die,” Mohammad shared. “Then you guys came in and helped me; I was glad you prayed with me, and I feel much better.”

Mohammad Says Thank You

For six days, he fought to improve his levels with the support of high-flow oxygen. On January 23, Mohammad regained his strength and was discharged from our field hospital.

Every time a patient is discharged from our Emergency Field Hospital, our disaster response team gathers together to cheer for their recovery and return home. The joyful celebration can be heard from all six patient wards—a hopeful reminder that there is victory over the virus.

Celebrating a Victory

More than 60 disaster response specialists continue working alongside Antelope Valley Hospital to treat patients battling COVID-19. Though the numbers have gone down over the past two weeks, we are still caring for more than a dozen patients a day in our tents.

Nurse Bruce Nisley and his team have deployed all over the world with Samaritan’s Purse; now, they faithfully stand with overwhelmed California medical workers—seeing the opportunity to bring hope to a desperate situation.

“Healthcare workers around the country are working so hard; they don’t get breaks,” Bruce said. “They work tirelessly because of this pandemic and it’s nice to be able to share hope—the hope of Christ.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Samaritan’s Purse has responded to the coronavirus outbreak in 30 countries through 148 projects. The Los Angeles County field hospital response marks the fifth Emergency Field Hospital deployment since the beginning of the global pandemic early last year.

We praise God that coronavirus case numbers are now declining in Los Angeles County. Please pray for medical workers on the frontlines who continue to boldly face the deadly virus. Please also pray for those struggling with COVID-19 and for their families.

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