To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the DSW assignment but I did mean it when I said to my section teammates at SFO that I was glad to help out in any way I can and do my part as a Disaster Service Worker. It felt a lot like being in the Army Reserves (which I used to be) and getting activated for an emergency. This is as a chance to serve my country, well more like my City. But after attending a 2.5-hour orientation, I still felt unsure about what to expect from my DSW assignment. I knew I was assigned the role “Site Monitor,” but what exactly is that?
My DSW assignment shift started at 3pm and ended at 11pm. I was assigned to Site 4 which was a “modest” hotel that housed patients, many were Covid-19 positive. There was such a fear that is connected to this virus but I had been meditating on Bible verses such as 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” And Psalm 91:3-4 “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.” That settled it for me. I would act in wisdom by taking the proper precautions (mask, hand washing, etc) but I was not going to act or react in fear over every little detail like, “Ooops, I forgot and touched my face, now I’m going to come down with it!” In addition, a good friend and I prayed that I would walk in a “glory health zone”!
To my delight, on my first day, I was paired up with someone I knew from SFO. Yay, instant Team SFO camaraderie and a truly delightful person to work with! Although we already knew each other, we didn’t know each other well but in working together for a full 8 hours that day, we got the chance to talk beyond the surfacy stuff. Of course just because you got stuck with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you feel the mutual freedom to go deep, but once we found out we shared the same beliefs in God, our conversations just took off and blinkidy blink, despite the times of hustling and sweat (wearing a mask for hours contributes to the sweating), it was 11pm already, bummer! I was actually now looking forward to my assignment and continuing our conversations about God and life on my next day at Site 4, but to my disappointment, she was reassigned to a different site while I would continue at the same site for the rest of my time as a DSW.
Day 2 of my DSW assignment was pretty typical of the rest of my 2-week stint. Except on my first day, during the 3-11pm shift, we typically had 3 Site Monitors to figure out the proper meal delivery plan (including avoiding allergies to certain rooms) and make deliveries of meals, snacks, and supplies to the patients. There was only 1 elevator available and if a patient used it, we weren’t supposed to use it until it was thoroughly sanitized so at times, we had to climb the stairs for up to 5 stories during deliveries. That’s one way to get your steps in! Sometimes we sorted clean linen and distributed them to empty rooms, checked to see the phones and lights worked and the toilet flushed. We were not supposed to interact with the patients, especially since many of them were Covid-19 positive. Kudos to all my fellow Site Monitors that I met during my stint. Everyone had great attitudes. On one evening, hours after dinner, when it was pretty quiet at that point, a fellow Site Monitor pulled out her phone that had group games on it. We had fun playing charades and word games.
The nurses I met were amazing. I don’t know how they did it, but they had 12-hour shifts and had to put up with a lot. Some patients were very demanding, but the nurses remained calm, patient, and professional. One nurse (pictured in front of the cake) bought a cake to celebrate a colleague’s birthday (he is pictured to her right). It was her birthday as well a few days later and thus I got to experience my first live Covid-19 birthday celebration. Our masked “happy birthday” song and dance never sounded better!
These are truly unprecedented times. No one was prepared for an emergency of this nature, but everyone I met made the best of it. I did see areas that definitely needed improvement and I submitted my feedback on those. Certainly, there are lessons to be learned so that next time, collectively we would be ready to tackle and manage a crisis like this with a lot more efficiency and less waste. I am glad that I got to serve and experience this particular DSW assignment. I was honored to work with the good attitudes and diversity of people fulfilling their DSW assignments. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my colleague from my 1st day on the job, and I’m thankful to God for His protection as I walked in a glory health zone the entire time and never got sick. Every breath is a gift! Amen!