Three months ago today my mom quietly walked out of Emory University Hospital. As I sat on a hotel room floor and watched the news anchor give commentary on my mom being wheeled into the special isolation unit I was very unsure if she would walk out of that hospital. Two weeks later she left, virus free, on a strong road to recovery, and rejoicing at God’s grace in her life.
We are often asked what the specific treatment was that saved her life. Was it the special Zmapp “serum”? Was it a transfusion or other technique that made her well? Was it her faith? Certainly, we know that the ultimate source of her healing was the Lord. But God uses means to accomplish his ends. He uses people. He uses medical treatments. He uses what he has created for his glory and our good.
One of the means that God used to save my mom was the team of doctors, nurses, and staff at Emory University Hospital. Not only were they working overtime in a serious and very unique situation with two patients, but they were also working with two families through our concerns, fears, and struggle. Every single doctor, nurse, and staff member was incredibly helpful to our family. As we walked through the struggle of this disease and mom’s fight in it they became a support team for us in all our emotional highs and lows.
Earlier this week Time Magazine ran an article on “America’s Top Ebola Doctor”, Dr. Bruce Ribner. My first encounter with Dr. Ribner was him walking into our waiting room on the first day mom was there to explain what was going on with mom. I had seen him on television earlier in the week explaining to the press why Emory was ready to receive and care for Ebola patients. I was impressed with him already. As he walked into our waiting room I told him how thankful I was that they would take my mom and care of her. He gave me an incredulous look and said, “Of course, I’m a doctor! That’s what we do.”
As he continued explaining what was going on with my mom and the care they were giving her he stopped to ask why my vocation was. I mentioned to him that I was a pastor. He smiled and said, “Good! You do what you do well [pray] and will do what I do well [doctor].” I agreed to the arrangement and even though I knew I couldn’t do what he was doing, I was pretty sure he was doing a little of what I do too.
Dr. Ribner is in no way the exception to this group. Every other member of the team, including the security officers, treated us in the same way. When we would go and see mom they helped us, encouraged us, even stopped everything we were doing as we prayed with mom. They prayed with us. Nurses checked in on us. The public relations team at the hospital made sure help us navigate some media requests. I’ve rarely seen an entire team, in a unique and high profile situation, respond as well and graciously as this team did.
Three months to the day after my mom walked out of Emory, I am giving thanks to God for putting in place not just a hospital, but a team of people for just this time. If God calls my daughter or son to pursue a career in serving others in the medical field, the first place I will encourage them to go is Emory.
Images provided courtesy of Lexi Rudolph.