'We’re caring for needy patients while managing our own worries'

Eric’s story | God’s ‘real reality’

“I work as a dentist for the NHS in South London. It can be stressful at times. The patient orientated parts of the job are great, and I normally enjoy the clinical work, but my role is mixed. I also manage a team of about 40 people, and that can be difficult, especially now, in the middle of a pandemic.”

“In March, we ceased all routine dentistry in England with no definite restart date. It’s because we’re working in the respiratory tract, and patients can be infectious with COVID-19 before they’re symptomatic. To keep everyone safe we’d need a lot of personal protective equipment that’s better used for patients who are severely ill in hospital. We have moved to emergency advice on the telephone and urgent care for those who would otherwise end up putting further strain on our NHS A&E [emergency] departments due to their dental problems.

“It meant that within a week, I had to reorganise our dental service, change job roles, train and redeploy staff. We have clinics set up to provide telephone consultation and to see patients face to face if needed. It’s been stressful. It’s a constant balancing act to reduce risk, meet the demands of patients in pain and to reassure very worried staff who know there isn’t much evidence-based practice out there for COVID-19 infection control.

“We’re caring for needy patients while managing our own worries about vulnerable family members at home.

“For me, I have to come back to Psalm 16. It reminds me of the ‘real reality’ of my relationship with God, not the present reality I find myself in. It reminds me of the hope that I have, in Jesus. I find it helpful to read it in different versions. The Passion translation is refreshing. “Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands … Because you are close to me and always available, my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.” (v 5-8).

“The whole of Psalm 16 helps me at work, in all the challenging moments. The Lord is my portion and my cup. Surely, I have a delightful inheritance. It’s comforting, even when we don’t know what next week will bring.

“I’ve been very aware of God’s protection of physical and mental health. For example, last week, we had a patient booked with a dental emergency that could only be dealt with face to face. One hour before the appointment they called to say they had a temperature and felt unwell. We postponed the visit and advised them to have a COVID-19 test. Three days into their isolation they called to say they were positive. We organised to see them when recovered – one honest patient potentially saved the lives of many others.

And this is my prayer at the moment, ‘Lord, when things get back to normal, never let me be the same!’”

Eric’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Bible verse Psalm 16:5-8

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