There is not enough room in the hearts?

12 May 2020
Death, fear, mortal fear, mercy – these are the issues that Gabriela Bambrick-Santoyo, an internist, working in the pandemic frontline had to face just in a few weeks’ time

It’s like a “war zone” – as the internal-medicine specialist described the conditions she had to experience along with her colleagues in the hotspot struggle against the coronavirus. People that were strictly following the rules, have passed away overnight.

“We are just unable to keep up with the deaths. There is not enough room in the hearts, in the minds and in the physical bodies. There is not enough space neither in the hospitals nor in the refrigerated rooms.” – as Gabriela described the circumstances in her interview. Besides their emotional stress, they had to deal with their own fears as well.

Paralyzing fear

“Everything becomes a reality when one has to face so much death around. Shall it be that my life is going to be taken too? Am I willing to sacrifice my life for those around me?” – these were the very thoughts racing the mind of a women with decades of medical experiences. She honestly admitted of having been full of fears, when she had to treat patients with Covid-19 infection.

“I just wanted to go and finish my medical duties in a quick and timely manner, making sure that the patient received what he/she needed, then I hurried out of the room as quickly as possible.” – said Gabriela in the
interview. But, all of a sudden she had to face something horrifying, that all of us wanted to avoid nowadays….her healthy 18-year-old daughter had been hospitalized with Covid-19 contamination.

The turning point

“In the evenings, she called me crying from her hospital room saying: »Mom, I have lost all my dignity. I was not allowed to go out to the bathroom, I thought I was going to make it onto the floor.« This was so deeply shocking and made me wonder whether I was treating my patients alike...”
These days have completely reshaped the doctor’s way of thinking. She has decided to fully devote her life to her patients. As she worded it: “I want to pour out more mercy and would never let them to feel abandoned.”
Gabriela Bambrick-Santoyo was born and raised in Mexico City, and is an active and committed member of the Focolare movement since 1987. (See note below). She currently works in a hospital in Montclair, northern New Jersey, as an Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Department. Doctor Bambrick-Santoyo considers her Catholic faith and her vocation to the medical care as of inseparable key points. She was about eighteen when she had first felt the urge to “concretely live the gospel” as she worded her then feelings. This was the moment when her life has been basically changed, from then on this have guided her actions both as a person and as a physician. Going beyond the assistance, Gabriela believes that being a Catholic is an important component when it’s about meeting the moral ethics of the medical world. It is extremely essential –as she strongly believes - that members of the Catholic community, who are having expertise in diverse territories of life should look for each other’s relationship.

The physician and the person

Though the base were sound, fighting in the frontline against the pandemic has led the internist to revalue many things. She had to be on board even when a contaminated, emotionally unstable patient behaved aggressively. The patient was threatening her that should not he got such and such treatment he would punch Gabriela.

“It took me two to three moments to remind myself that the person was also a child of God, thus I had to look on him with patience, love and mercy. As soon as he noticed this thought in my eyes, his anger faded away. When he was transferred to different ward, on his way he turned to me, smiled and said: »You and one of the nurses have been the only ones that have taken the time to explain things to me.«”

“Amongst the so many deaths, I have been granted by the mercy as well.” – said the doctor, when talking about the story of a 91-year-old COVID-19 contaminated patient. The woman was very sick and knew she was going to die, still she was at peace about it. Doctor Gabriela stayed with her in the last moments, while being in contact with the dying patient’s family over the phone as well:

“I passed over the family’s message to her. Since she had
difficulties of hearing, I had to get very close to her ears to
understand her clearly. This was a terrifying feeling, being really
close physically to a dying patient, while holding her hands. I
knew I was unable to save her, but I was able to be there as the
channel of love between her and her family, and of course of God
to her.”

Source: work-in-coronavirus-hotspot/
Photo: cruxnow

Note: The Focolare Movement (officially known as the Work of Mary – Focolare
Movement) is a movement of spiritual and social renewal within the Catholic Church,
founded in 1943 in Italy.