How the COVID-19 pandemic placed one nurse in a position to make a difference.
Published on: 02-12-2021
Registered nurse Jill Jennings joined the Heart & Vascular Clinic at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Bolingbrook in Illinois, United States, in October 2019. When COVID-19 struck, she was asked to work in other areas, including the Emergency Department, where she was able to draw on her long experience as an ED nurse. She says that such experience — and her faith in the power of prayer — helped her when 15-year-old Emily was brought in with a drug overdose.
“When Emily came in, I just knew that I could help her,” Jennings said. “A lot of times on my way to work, I ask God, ‘Show me who You want me to minister to today.’ That day I knew it was Emily. I sat down in a chair next to her bed and asked her, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ She said she did, but she didn’t have that in her life right now. I asked her if she wanted it, and she said she did.”
They talked and prayed together, and then Jennings gave the girl a devotional book in which she had written, “I cannot wait to see what God does in you and through you.” After Emily was released, her mother called Jennings and told her that Emily went to her room when they got home and began to read the book. She later checked into a rehab facility in Wisconsin.
A few months later, when she got back from rehab, Emily sent Jennings a letter that said, “Thank you for saving my life. You honestly changed my life for the better. When you first prayed with me, I knew that, in that moment, you were an angel.”
Jennings acknowledges that it can be hard to reach patients like Emily. “In the ER, we get patients like her all the time — people who come back over and over. It can be frustrating,” she said. “But I always try to ask myself, ‘What if today is going to be the day that it clicks?’ With Emily, the timing was right. The seeds had been planted, and she was finally ready to listen. I try to be intentional about addressing that and planting those seeds with all my patients.”
She believes strongly in the power of prayer. “On the first day of orientation at AMITA, they said we were going to talk about our mission, extending the healing ministry of Jesus,” she said. “I loved this; it was very different from what I was used to. To be at an organization where we were encouraged to pray with our patients was very exciting for me. I felt like I was home.”
Praying with patients and reaching out to them spiritually is what sets a faith-based hospital system apart, she said, explaining, “This is what it’s about. It is our mission. We live in a hurting world, and if we don’t meet the spiritual needs of every patient that we encounter, we’re missing an opportunity.”