Posted by: calloftheandes | June 14, 2016

Nurse Says Receiving Sometimes Goes With Giving

Joanna Fidel, RN, speaking at an annual medical conference in Ecuador, Jornadas Médicas.

Joanna Fidel, RN, speaking at an annual medical conference in Ecuador, Jornadas Médicas.

Dying is one thing, according to nurse Joanna Fidel. She had seen people die before. To die alone though—that is another matter.

Fidel works in the emergency room of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. As a guest speaker at Jornadas Médicas 2016 (Medical Conferences 2016) in Quito, Ecuador, she told of heartbreak and how God used the situation to teach her of Himself.

Themes of emergency medicine and disaster response were amply explored in 52 lectures, about half of which were given by specialists from outside of Ecuador, including Fidel. She related that when a lung cancer patient in pulmonary distress arrived at the ER, “we tried bi-pap, but we ended up having to intubate him.” (The former method delivers pressurized air through a mask to a patient’s airways, whereas the latter does so through a tube introduced into the throat.)

With doubts about the patient’s survival, Fidel attempted to contact his daughter. “As a nurse,” Fidel said, “you give a lot of yourself to a patient. You will not take your lunch break—sometimes not take your bathroom break. You give a lot of yourself.”

The conference consisted of plenary sessions, forums and workshops that offer information on new developments, review of good practices, and break-out sessions with hands on opportunities. Valued by attendees for its continuing education credits and professional development, the Jornadas Médicas holds at its base an opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with the Ecuadorian medical community. With Reach Beyond’s Dr. Roy Ringenberg interpreting into Spanish, a few guests—including Fidel— shared testimonies of living a Christian life.

Joanna Fidel and Dr. Roy Ringenberg

Joanna Fidel and Dr. Roy Ringenberg

“I was beside the patient the whole night time and I tried to comfort him. I just didn’t want him to die alone with no family,” she continued. “The patient eventually did die around 9:30 that night, and the family still wasn’t there. They weren’t able to contact them.”

Afterwards, Fidel had a good cry privately in a back room. “In the ER as a nurse, you have this appearance that you need to be tough and you need to be strong to care for these patients,” said Fidel, “because if you cry every time something bad happens to your patient, you’re not going to get any work done.”fidel2

Returning to her area, she was greeted by a new patient who had come to the ER with toe pain. “As I did my assessment, I did my best to hold it [the grief] in,” Fidel related. “But he stopped me and took my hand. He started to pray for me and. . . —sorry, telling you about this makes me cry—he prayed for me and said that God put me in this role because I have a strong heart to be able to care for someone.”

As the patient prayed, the nurse cried. “I felt like a failure because I was supposed to be the strong one and here I was crying as he was praying,” she said. “But through this situation, God taught me that you do have to be strong and caring, and [that] He can show Himself through this patient by him praying.”

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