So many have been asking how to support Riley and those affected by the Coronavirus in Peru. You can make a gift here – https://goservglobal.org/give/, Choose “Coronavirus Relief” in the dropdown, and write “Peru” in the note.
COVID-19 Update from Riley Brinkman, an RN & Missionary in Iquitos, Peru
Since the beginning of quarantine, curfew hours have only become more strict, the military presence has only increased, the state of emergency continues to be extended, airports and business continue to be closed, prices continue to rise, and the hope of getting life back to “normal” for the rest of 2020 looks slim.
The healthcare system in Iquitos is crashing. Our system was not equipped to handle a pandemic such as this one. With not enough beds for the sick, not enough protective equipment for the staff, not enough medicine for the hospitalized and not enough oxygen for anyone, people are dying everywhere. Not specifically from COVID but instead from the effects of what COVID has done. Sometimes it feels we have more sick and dying doctors and nurses than we do healthy. Some that remain have gone on strike. A number of pharmacies have closed doors.
Currently only two main hospitals remain open out of all the hospitals and clinics here in the city (one just for COVID patients and one for everyone else). However, reports have been started that one of the hospitals (for everything not COVID) will be closing this week, leaving us with one hospital and only treating those with COVID. **The population of Iquitos is 462,000**
First off, I am safe and I am healthy. Confident it is only by the grace and strength from our Sovereign Father and the prayers you all have covered me in. (And for that, I thank you!!). My ministry looks very different now. It feels like 12-hour shifts at Mercy Hospital again, but now I’m never actually off duty. My phone never stops ringing or dinging with a new patient or someone else needing meds. I have been on what feels like hundreds of house visits. I have passed out thousands of pills (the majority being vitamins, Tylenol – which has been out of stock for more than 2 weeks here! – decongestants, and antibiotics).
I have studied more and even harder than I think I ever did in nursing school because in school I studied to pass a test; here I study in hopes of helping someone heal. I have put in IVs in places where my shoes get stuck in the dirt as chickens run across my feet. This place has stretched me and grown me. It has broken me and opened my eyes.
To my already tired soul that was ready for a much-needed rest in the US, the long days became draining. It was a struggle in the beginning – not truly knowing how to treat people in such a place as this. Certain that care in the hospitals must be better than the care I could provide in home (as I come with nothing more than meds/IVs, my stethoscope, BP cuff, gloves, mask, and a heart determined to find out what is truly going on with this person).
Countless times I’ve wanted to order a chest X-ray or simple blood draw only to look down at my empty hands and around at the dirt floor and boards leaning against each other to create what they call their four walls. I have never learned to be more depended on God than what I have in this time. Seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit in every step. Going where He tells me to, but more importantly, NOT going where He tells me not to go.
It has been a roller coaster of times. Draining and challenging, heartbreaking and discouraging, rewarding and encouraging, death and life. I have never been more thankful for the training I received in school and in the hospital, training to help me be aware and conscious of sickness and how not to spread it. I have also never been more excited to use my gifts and see the passion that I had wrestled with for so long here finally come to life. It’s amazing how His ways are always higher, if only we let Him write our story.
Please hear me, friends, this has not been a moment of bashing on the healthcare system here, but instead the reason for why it inspires me to do what I’m currently doing.
During this time, I would covet your prayers!