Good is still happening in the midst of the COVID-19 chaos in Emporia, Kansas.

Julia Pyle attends Lamont Wesleyan Church, located in rural Lamont, and serves as chief nursing and operating officer for an Emporia hospital. While rural Kansas has not been hit hard with COVID-19 (Pyle estimates about 30 cases have come through her hospital), heightened stress and uncertainty has impacted the entire community. The Emporia nursing staff is seeking more ways to receive and give hope in this season.

Pyle said the hospital began incorporating a more holistic patient care approach before COVID-19 hit. The team had started “spiritual-based care,” with a stronger emphasis on spiritual wellness and care.

“We are looking to strengthen patients’ spiritual wellness care on admission, provide care throughout their stays and focus on what patients need,” said Pyle. “This approach has been positive.”

Not only has spiritual care for patients increased, the medical staff is more engaged spiritually.

Staff have started praying together and have formed small groups for prayer and encouragement. Some staff members are showing interest in learning more about the Christian faith by asking questions and requesting prayer. According to Pyle, “people are feeling more comfortable with praying with one another at our hospital” and that “family and patients are looking for hope in this time.”

Pyle noted that many nurses are moms who, in addition to working hospital shifts, are overseeing their children’s “homeschooling” since the Kansas schools closed earlier this spring. Their fear of taking COVID-19 home and infecting their family members is high.

“A few staff have asked if it’s okay to pray for patients if a patient requests it or they can identify that a patient may want or need it—all the while remembering not to push personal beliefs onto patients,” Pyle said. “We are empowering people in the culture to think about spiritual things and that it’s not wrong to assess where people are spiritually and what their needs are.”

Another member of Lamont Wesleyan Church wanted to offer encouragement at the hospital. She set up a phone ministry prayer line for individuals to call if they needed someone to pray with them.

As society “re-opens,” Pyle realizes anxiety might be high for people going to hospitals for surgeries or outpatient procedures. She said hospitals are doing their best to put patient fears at ease.

“Hospitals are very cognizant of people’s fears. Every hospital is focused on assuring the communities they serve as they start to open.”

Medical professionals may also be experiencing their own levels of anxiety as hospitals begin increasing patient care and services.

“I think it’s important to be mindful of what their [the medical professionals] experiences have been in the last couple of months compared to what others have experienced or seen,” said Pyle. Processes for managing and fighting COVID-19 have been in place, but sometimes circumstances changed quickly and with little warning as experts have continued to learn about the virus. “Some processes have been different and there was a lot of rapid change. Sometimes info was changing every hour, and that rapid change can be so exhausting.”

Pyle has encouragement for Wesleyans — truths she’s trying to remember herself.

“We serve a God who, when we draw close to him, can overcome all,” Pyle said. “That doesn’t mean we should be irresponsible either. Live in confidence and be smart. He has given us resources in people (doctors and nurses) to help navigate this time. If we can be humble and listen and obey, even if we don’t agree, that is key.

“Don’t live in fear. It’s a great time for us to demonstrate God’s love and be a witness because of how we’re acting and responding and be willing to serve others. Look around at how we can encourage others in small ways. That one little thing you do in love can really change someone’s heart and life.”

To learn more about how Julia Pyle is engaged in Unleashing a Kingdom Force in marketplace ministry, click here.