Prayer, Partnership Bring COVID-19 Healing

May 28, 2020 | Health | Terry Johnsson

When Adventist Health Portland took in their first patient with the new coronavirus (COVID-19), a growing global pandemic took the form of a community member with a name, a face and a family. Called to live God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope, clinical and support teams went to work using training, expertise and specific action plans prepared for this possibility.

Patients coming to the emergency room with respiratory symptoms are isolated and treated with specific protocols, including COVID-19 testing. Soon one of those tests came back positive. Adventist Health Portland’s first COVID-19 patient was a man in his 50s. Despite having no other health concerns, his condition quickly worsened. Placed on a ventilator, he was soon fighting for his life.

With no medical options for treating COVID-19 directly, staff focused on keeping the patient alive so his immune system could fight the virus. Thanks to partnership with Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), specialists from both hospitals collaborated in real time on a care strategy. With the help of video conferencing tools, this patient received more expert and complete care than either facility could provide on its own.

“It’s like another set of eyes and ears and access to additional specialty services without having to transfer the patient out of our facility,” says Cindy Nutter, patient care executive. “Every handoff increases risk for patients. Having them stay in one place, with the providers and nurses who know them, and still get that expertise is a huge benefit for our patients. In fact, it’s a real win for health care.”

Faced with unprecedented challenges the team at Adventist Health Portland also relied on another faithful partner, the Great Physician. Daily emergency command center meetings began with specific prayer for patients, staff and the community. Chaplains provided in-person support where possible, as well as video and teleconferencing ministry for patients, families and staff.

After nearly two weeks, the patient was able to be weaned off the ventilator. A short time later, he left the hospital for home, rather than a recovery facility. Miraculously, he had suffered no neurological damage. Serenaded by celebratory music over the intercom system, the patient was wheeled to the front door past cheering staff members who had cared for him and prayed for this moment.

“When we have a success like this, it’s a reminder that all your hard work is for a reason,” says Nutter. “I saw ICU and emergency room staff watching this patient leave with tears in their eyes. They hadn’t known if he would live or die. Now they were able to see how the care they gave saved his life and reunited him with his family.”

Learn more about how Adventist Health Portland is responding to COVID-19 at