By Clare BruceThursday 16 Apr 2020
Above: Medical crew gather to pray inside the Emergency Field Hospital in Cremona, Italy.
Photo: Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse
Christian aid organisation Samaritan’s Purse is busy responding to the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, with two emergency field hospitals set up in Italy and New York, and two Australians deployed on the hospital medical teams.
In New York City, and in Cremona, Italy, where local medical infrastructure has been severely overwhelmed by the virus outbreaks, the international aid charity has set up two of its 68-bed field hospitals, in co-operation with local health authorities. It is an unprecedented medical response for Samaritan’s Purse; never before has it had two emergency field hospitals running simultaneously.
Two Australian women have been deployed on the hospital team in Italy: intensive care nurse Catherine Stiles from Queensland, and lab technician Tricia Miller from South Australia. The pair are working alongside over 70 medical professionals from all over the world.
Catherine said she’d already decided she was willing to go anywhere when she signed up for SP’s Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART), before the call for help came.
“I said I’d go anywhere in the world, but I saw Italy being hit quite early on, before anyone really knew what was coming,” she said. “I didn’t hesitate to say yes when Samaritan’s Purse called out for a potential deployment. I want to help the nation and help my fellow healthcare workers. I feel privileged and honoured to be going. I will be working with some of the best doctors, nurses, logistics professionals in the world.”
As a Christian organisation, prayer is a intrinsic part of all of the work Samaritan’s purse does, with everyone from the executive level to set-up crews and medical staff, taking part in praying for their patients and the community they are serving.
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Back home in Australia, the charity, best known for its annual Christmas shoebox appeal “Operation Christmas Child”, has donated 8,000 ‘N95’ particle filter face masks to Westmead Children’s Hospital for medical and cleaning staff to protect themselves as they respond to cases of the disease. They are the same kind of masks the organisation used during its bushfires response in December and January.
Samaritan’s Purse has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the developing pandemic situation, and has the capacity to respond in other locations if needed.
The charity, led globally by Franklin Graham, works in more than 100 countries responding to physical and spiritual needs in crisis situations including war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution.