Medical professionals keep the faith amid COVID-19 outbreak

By Shawn Hendricks
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Cory Luckie usually doesn’t wear scrubs to work, but the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the routine upside down. It’s a new precaution the physician at Ivy Creek Family Care in Holtville  adopted amid the coronavirus crisis that continues to transform lives around the globe.

“I usually wear normal clothes, but for the past week I’ve been wearing scrubs,” he said. “So literally when I get home I strip down and get straight in the shower before I touch my wife or my [3-year-old] son.”

Luckie has been examining patients in the parking lot of the clinic, some of whom are experiencing shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms. To minimize risk of contamination, the patients have been asked to stay in their vehicles, which in this case doubles as an examination room, while the doctor triages the situation.

“So we’ll put the mask on, eye protection on. And I’ll go and listen to [the patient] … see what’s going on and figure out what we need to do from there,” Luckie said.

Faith gives peace in crisis

Despite the risks that come with being in the medical field these days, Luckie, a member of First Baptist Church, Prattville, said his faith has helped give him peace amid the crisis. While many in the medical field are scrambling to respond to the needs of those infected by the coronavirus, Luckie described the situation for some smaller outpatient clinics as the “calm before the storm.” Luckie said, he takes comfort in knowing God is in control.

“I’ve tried to keep in perspective that God’s sovereignty reigns,” he said. “He knows how this is going to end. He’s driving this, and I think as long as we keep that perspective, we’ll be OK.”

As of April 9, more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported worldwide, with more than 94,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. In the United States, nearly half a million confirmed cases have been reported, with more than 16,000 deaths. Alabama has reported nearly 3,000 confirmed cases, with 48 confirmed deaths from the illness.

While clinics like the small rural one in Elmore County where Luckie works are having to take the “proper precautions,” the overall pace of the work has been “business as usual right now,” he said. Many city hospitals are seeing an influx of patients, but Luckie believes the virus outbreak has “actually had the opposite effect on outpatient clinics,” and many are staying home to avoid risk of contamination, he said.

“I think probably in the next maybe one to two weeks, we’re going to really see if our healthcare system can handle the storm that Italy and China once saw,” Luckie said.

Be cautious and proactive

He reminded people to be cautious and if they’re not feeling well — have a cough, fever — to also stay away from stores and other public places.

“Keep time in perspective,” said Luckie, acknowledging it’s understandable that some are struggling in isolation. “Two weeks may seem like a long time but in the grand scheme of things, two weeks can save hundreds of lives.

“Think about all of the people that you may come into contact with who are then going to go home to their mom or dad who has cancer or their husband who has really bad COPD,” he said.

People, he said, should see themselves as the “base of a tree.”

“Your contacts are going to keep branching and branching and branching,” he said. “And until we get people to realize that, we’re not going to slow this down.”

Spiritual health important

Robert “Bob” Cosby is a long-time physician who has served in the military, on a cruise ship and now fills in for medical staff in the Birmingham area. He said it’s times like these when people should consider their spiritual health more than anything else.

“I think the very first thing that any person should consider is their salvation, their relationship to Christ,” said Cosby, who is a member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

“You don’t want to wait until you’re taking your last breath, or you’re going in and out of consciousness on a ventilator, to wait till that point to think, ‘I’ll turn my life over to Christ.’”

And for believers, he said, this crisis is as an opportunity that Christians shouldn’t let slip by.

If you don’t feel the motivation to share your faith with others then “your wood is wet,” he said.

“Our lives are counted minute by minute,” Cosby said. “If we have our faith in Christ and the most important thing we can do is share with someone else … we need to be bold if we believe it.”