Trillia Newbell – Healthcare heroes

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, April 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

Medical professionals who show up day after day to care for others even in these times are inspirational figures, to say the least. Here’s WORLD commentator Trillia Newbell to say so much more.

TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: Right before my father was taken off of his ventilator, we were all given a chance to say goodbye. I walked around his hospital bed slowly kissing his forehead, arms, hands, and face. 

That day is forever etched in my mind. I was 19 years old, and like many little girls, I was a “daddy’s girl.” My father was my best friend. My heart was broken. 

But something else stood out to me as I said my final goodbyes. As I rounded the edge of his bed to reach his right hand, I looked up and caught the eye of the nurse. He was crying. 

I don’t know why I had this impulse, but I almost paused to hug the nurse. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted to tell him that it would be okay and that I had the best time with my dad, although it was cut short. I’ve heard before that often grieving people end up caring for those around them. My heart hurt for him as I thought how he may have to see a scene like mine every day—sometimes multiple times a day. 

During this coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people are not getting the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. That’s tragic. I’m so grateful that I had that chance. 

Right now nurses and doctors, like the one who cared for my dad, are seeing death every day, multiple times a day, in ways many have never experienced before. According to recent White House projections, guided by infectious disease experts, the COVID-19 outbreak could kill some 240,000 Americans. And that’s assuming we adhere to recommended guidelines, including social distancing. Should we rebel against these guidelines, medical experts say the loss of life could number in the millions. 

As I’ve watched this outbreak unfold, my mind continues to drift back to that moment I caught eyes with that nurse who felt my pain. I can’t imagine the emotional and mental toll this pandemic will have on those on the front lines—for years to come. I can’t stop thinking about them and praying for them.

These medical workers are the heroes of this pandemic. But when all of the dust settles and COVID-19 is far behind us, the mental health work for the medical community may just be beginning. For some the weight of this tragedy has already been too much. But I imagine the trauma will be longer lasting than the disease. 

We will find a vaccine. I believe that. But when the 24-7-news cycle of this season eases, are we going to forget about those who served on the front lines? I hope not. Right now we can begin to think of ways we can serve our neighbors who are nurses, doctors, EMTs, police officers, military, hospital cleaning crews, and all those who are rising to the challenge of this pandemic. 

To those in this category: we thank you, now. We are praying for you. We will never forget your service to our nation. 

I’m Trillia Newbell.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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