Samaritan’s Purse Doctor Says ‘It Was Hard’ Working at NYC Field Hospital and Urges Christians to ‘Stand in the Gap and Pray for Our Leaders’ Because There Are ‘a Lot of Difficult Decisions Ahead’

The door of a Samaritan’s Purse Truck parked along 5 Avenue in New York City. | The Christian Post/Leonardo Blair

As the debate over reopening the economy in the wake of the coronavirus continues to divide the nation, Dr. K. Elliott Tenpenny, a doctor who led the recently shuttered field hospital in Central Park for Samaritan’s Purse, urged Christians to stand in the gap of that divide and pray.

“There are a lot of difficult decisions ahead, difficult decisions by our leaders, difficult decisions by the states when they need to reopen and people need to go back to work, go back to businesses and that has to happen eventually. … My biggest encouragement to the Christian community would be to pray for our leaders to make wise decisions,” Tenpenny told The Christian Post as the remainder of the tents for the field hospital which operated for more than a month was dismantled Monday.

“There is not one side to this argument or this desire to be done with this virus. The world has to open back up but we also have to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens and our people. As Christians, we stand in the gap and can fill that with prayer. We can pray for our leaders and pray for our leadership both locally and nationally that the right decisions are made and that people take this very seriously,” he said.

Worldwide cases of the coronavirus surged to over 4 million at the start of this week, with cases in the United States exceeding 1.3 million. Deaths from the virus totaled more than 279,700 globally, including more than 80,000 in the U.S., according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University.

Doctors and other medical staff from the evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse treated 333 coronavirus patients during their one month mission in New York City as part of the Mount Sinai Health System, and 190 of them were treated at the field hospital.

While he was unable to share raw data on the number of patients that died under their care, Tenpenny told CP that the death rate was about equal to what the Mount Sinai Health System saw in general for coronavirus patients. And a study from scientists at Sema4, a patient-centered health intelligence company, said that was 22.6%.

“It was hard, honestly. It was hard. We received a lot of patients early in their course of the disease. And that means that a lot of them got better and some of them didn’t and they got progressively worse,” Tenpenny said.

“We got to know those patients before they had gotten that bad; had spoken to them, had gotten to know them and then some of them would get progressively worse. So it wasn’t just a patient with name X, Y and Z. It was a patient you truly knew and you cared about and you knew their name and you had talked to them about their family and … that made it even harder.”

One of the challenges for his team treating the coronavirus patients, he said, was having to deal with the way the virus devastated the ones who didn’t survive, who were mostly older adults.

“This disease is a terrible disease. It really devastates people but it does it in a way that’s very sudden. So someone can be doing well for a day or two and then all of a sudden just go downhill so fast. They can become so short of breath or as Mount Sinai discovered later they can start having things like blood clots that form that go to their lungs rapidly,” he explained.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair