No matter how you slice it – the Year of COVID – will go down unlike any other year in our recent history. When the final day of 2020 arrives, a majority of people will be more than ready to place 2020 in a box, padlock it, and place it high on a shelf! Yet, others will cherish memories as they reflect upon the birth of a child, a marriage celebration, or serving in the hotspots of COVID-19…or, what??!!
Patty Ridings, a Nurse Practitioner from Cherokee, KS has been a healthcare provider for nearly 30 years – and 2 years with Docs Who Care. When COVID-19 became more of a threat than anyone realized, Patty knew if the opportunity presented itself, she was ready to serve wherever needed. That calling led her to serve as one of the first volunteers of the COVID Care Force sent to New York City on April 8th.
Joining a team led by Dr. Gary Morsch and partnering with International Medical Corps., Patty found herself immersed in the epicenter of COVID-19 – Queens, NY at Flushing Medical Center. Patty recalls, “I was seeing things I had never experienced before. It was an ‘all hands-on deck’ situation around the clock. When a physician at the hospital learned I had left my family in Kansas to come to NYC to serve two weeks, she immediately teared up – tears of thankfulness. She could not believe anyone would volunteer to come into such a high-risk environment. As hard as it was to lose patients, it was such a victory when a patient was released. And every evening, after the day shift was over, people living near the hospital would open their windows or stand on their balconies banging pots and pans cheering on the hospital workers going home while the night shift arrived. It gave me chills every evening.”
Patty served in Queens until April 23rd. It was only 3 short days later, she received a call from Dr. Morsch. This time there was a need for the COVID Care Force to send an advance team to the Navajo Nation located in Gallup, NM. A city who had closed the city’s entrances trying their best to temper the pandemic moving through the area at a rapid rate. Again, Patty answered the call. “The Navajo Nation was in such need before the pandemic struck. PPE and medical supplies like touchless thermometers and water were so sparse. We were able to secure masks from Masks of Mercy, face shields from Heart to Heart International donated by Ford Motor Company, gloves, gowns, and water. It was so encouraging to see all these organizations coming together and doing what they could to support our efforts. I was honored to be a part of the Advance Team. It gave me the perfect opportunity to share knowledge learned from my experience in the New York City area. That was a really satisfying feeling.”
While serving in both New York and New Mexico, Patty met Dr. Lytitia Shea. Dr. Shea and Patty became fast friends and have kept in touch since serving together in New York. This friendship became even more treasured as Patty would find herself infected with the COVID-19 virus on August 31. Dr. Shea would check in with Patty every day and of course, Patty used her own personal experience to educate and encourage her own patients, family and friends through Facebook posting her symptoms and practices that helped her rest and recover while at home. Thankfully, Patty was back at work just in time to celebrate the one year anniversary – September 10 – of Ridings Healthcare Clinic where Patty sees hundreds of patients in the Pittsburg, KS area and even offers house calls if best for the patient.
Patty Ridings has embraced the value and essence of serving others. Not only by choosing a career in healthcare, but in her willingness to take her skill set to the areas of greatest need.
When asked what has been her greatest takeaway after her personal battle with COVID and her weeks of volunteer service, Patty was quick to say, “I have experienced the resilience of the human spirit and compassion in new ways I will never forget. And, I have new friends I would have otherwise never met.”
This unpredictable year of 2020 will soon be gone. With it a lot of losses, but there is still good to treasure. Thankfully, there are those willing to come alongside others when life gets the most challenging – those with a resilient spirit and compassionate heart – like that of Patty Ridings.
Patty, thank you for the example you set for all of us.