The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has hit the Ebenezer home in Haifa, the only facility for elderly believers in Israel. The home managed to keep the virus at bay in all previous waves, but it was this variant has finally affected them.
“People were mad at the lockdowns, but now we see the lockdowns helped us. When we sat down as a team to prepare for this wave, we understood we needed to prepare to absorb it this time,” Johnny Khoury, manager of Ebenezer, told KNI.
“They don’t say it openly, but we understood between the lines that they want a mass infection. The official guidelines we received were focused on preparing for the sickness rather than avoiding it. We may not forbid visits, and we have to let people go out and visit others. In the past, the lockdown protected us, even though I know it was hard for many. This time it’s different. But I thank God this strain of the COVID is less severe than the ones before.”
At the time of writing, all residents in Ebenezer with COVID are in good condition, Khoury says, except one man who is hospitalized. But even in his case, the hospitalization was a precaution taken because of his many background diseases that put him at a higher risk.
“When residents get sick, the guidelines say that we have to send them to COVID wards outside of the home. But we asked for an exception, that they’ll let us keep the people here. Of course, it would be much easier to send the COVID-sick people away, but we know that when people leave, even just for a week, to be at a COVID ward, they come back traumatized. So we said we are ready to take the risk, and we turned an entire floor into a separate COVID ward. They gave us instructions on how to make it. It has a separate entrance, so you can’t get there from the other rooms. We want our residents to feel that we care about them. This is their home and we don’t want to send them away.” Khoury added that when workers test positive for the coronavirus, but only have mild symptoms, they start working within the closed COVID ward. That way, they can still work, and the healthy workers don’t have to take the risk of going there.
In order to stay on top of what is happening and keep COVID under control, they have asked the more independent residents who have their own rooms to self-isolate as much as possible. “People don’t understand how easily this is transmitted,” Khoury says. “It’s enough that someone takes off his mask for a moment to say something. It’s really like that. So we are asking them to stay in their rooms as far as possible for the next few days until the peak of this wave is behind us.”
The meals in the home have moved to a “room service” arrangement rather than everyone congregating in the main hall to eat, and the meals are eaten with disposable utensils. “We have less personnel since many got sick or went into isolation, so this way we eliminated the need to do dishes,” Khoury says. “Praise God, we are also receiving help from outside. Believers who came to volunteers with us and help out. We set up PCR testing, so we can screen them and allow them to help.”
“The government inspectors were here today. It was such a testimony. They said that they see we are coping with this differently than the others. We didn’t choose it, but that’s what happened. It’s in times like these that we are tested, and we see how our team really gets mobilized and takes initiatives. It’s not easy, but they work with all their hearts, going the extra mile. That’s not to be taken for granted, so it’s a big blessing.”
How can KNI’s readers pray for you?
“I believe the upcoming two weeks will be the hardest time in this wave, so just pray for the upcoming weeks that we will have the strength to withstand it. Just strength and patience for everyone. Both for the regular workers who are doing heavy lifting, but also for mental strength for the chief nurse, the doctor, the social worker, for me. We need to be available in evenings and weekends, we need to take difficult decisions, and we have a lot of responsibility on our conscience.”
The facility was founded in 1976 to enable “Israeli citizens in their elderly years to have a place to call home in a believing environment that represents Christian and Biblical values. Because of Yeshua, our Home consists of both Jewish and Arab believers living joyfully together in Him!”
“Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
Please pray for God’s continued protection over the Ebenezer Home and renewed strength for the staff.
To learn more about this home, or to help, visit the Ebenzer Home website.