Former URC Youth Moderator reflects on NHS frontline

Katie Henderson in overall news bannerThe dedication and commitment of frontline NHS workers helping to battle Covid-19 and save lives across the UK has received much deserved recognition and praise.

Many have spent long hours away from their loved-ones to look after the family members of others. In doing so, more than 100 have sadly lost their lives.

Katie Henderson, Immediate-past United Reformed Church (URC) Youth Assembly co-Moderator, is a much-valued nurse who gives an insight into what life is like on a hospital ward in this reflection.

Throughout my career I have always questioned the path God has sent me down. It has never been a straightforward path, often taking me a different route than I expected which frequently lead me to wanting to give up and go my own way.

Nursing in a pandemic has been no different. I find myself working in an adult intensive care unit (ICU) in a different hospital to usual. I’ve gone from nursing 3kg babies to 100kg adults, from using a high-tech specialised software system to using paper charts, from nursing one patient at a time to nursing three. Everything is similar but different, making every aspect of my job difficult.

Like many people in times of pain and suffering I find myself struggling to find God and understand this path he has put me on. I have experienced more heartache in the past two weeks in adult ICU than I have the past two years working in paediatric ICU. Many of the patients don’t survive. There’s only a short window of time between deterioration and death. There are no empty beds, in fact every bed space now has two beds in it. There are visitor restrictions in place meaning none of the patients have friends or family with them to comfort them.

Katie in nurse scrubsEvery day I go into work unsure what personal protective equipment (PPE) we will have. Right now, we are having to wear white boiler suits imported from Turkey that come in one size, that doesn’t fit all. Why? Because there are no gowns left. They are so hot that people are sweating through the scrubs underneath. We are living in scary times and now more than ever I find myself reliant on my faith.

Due to the shift work of my job, I haven’t been able to regularly attend a church service for many years now. Despite this, I have always been heavily involved with URC Youth and have a wonderful group of friends that help me to grow spiritually without having to attend church every week.

Since the beginning of lockdown my friends and I have met for worship on Zoom every week. This is by far the most consistent I’ve been able to attend “church” in years and it couldn’t have come at a more needed time.

Having dedicated time to spend in the presence of God at a time when I feel my life is more chaotic and uncertain than usual has allowed me to find God in the little things.

God was in me when, much to mine and everyone else’s surprise, I volunteered to be redeployed to adult ICU. God is in the countless other volunteers that have come from a range of specialities with no previous ICU, or sometimes even hospital, experience to do what they can to help.

God is in the British Airways staff that are in the hospital everyday providing us with food, drink and conversation. God is on the streets on a Thursday at 8pm when the nation comes together to show their appreciation for all key workers.

These are only a couple of examples, that I have first-hand experience of, of the incredible work being carried out in hospitals across the globe right now.

When you shift your mindset to thinking of all the good things happening in our communities, countries, the world, it is easy to see the countless ways in which God is showing his love for us.

Images: Katie Henderson.
Published: 5 May 2020

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