New Delhi, May 27— The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many stories of selflessness, courage and compassion. Doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers are risking their lives everyday to serve Coronavirus patients. They are today’s heroes.
They work long hours, often staying away from family for days. They are away from friends and family for at least a minimum time frame of 15 days. This story is about the doctors who go beyond the call of duty to serve humanity. Our doctors and frontline medical workers are our real heroes and we must acknowledge their sacrifice and show them respect.
“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men,” British theologian Brooke Foss Westcott had once said.
The COvid-19 crisis is replete with stories of selflessness and sacrifice by medical professionals – doctors, nurses, other health workers.
This short video documentary is their story.
The Coronavirus crisis is extracting a mental and emotional toll on doctors.
Dr Aheed Khan works at a private hospital in Delhi treating COVID-19 patients. But that means he has to self-isolate and can’t meet his family.
Dr Khan, a paediatrician, says: “The most important and challenging part of this job in the pandemic is the isolation. Wherever doctors work in a Covid facility, they are away from friends and family for at least a minimum time frame of 15 days. There is always a looming knife of the risk of exposure. Whether you are in a Covid facility or a non-Covid facility, the overwhelming effect of this crisis is that it has affected the mental health of not just those under quarantine or those staying at home but has affected physicians and healthcare workers who are at the frontline.”
Doctors are risking their lives everyday to help others and ordinary citizens across the country have been lauding their efforts.
“A lady outside a grocery store asked me if I am a doctor and then she started clapping. I am a paediatrician; so parents sometimes give me flowers or sweets. So just a small gesture of saying thanks is often all it takes,” says Dr Khan.
There are many such heroes across India. Dr Neelakshi Choudhary is one of them.
She helped 140 cancer patients, stuck in Mumbai on India’s western coast, reach home to Guwahati in northeastern India through a journey of 3,000 km in six buses with 140 passengers traversing across five states.
“When the lockdown was announced suddenly, all the elective surgeries were also cancelled. Patients started getting frustrated and agitated. Cancer as it is causes emotional turmoil. Then there were no flights, no trains, nothing. The government did organise specialised buses to transport these patients to Guwahati, Assam. Whenever the bus would stop the team leaders would apprise me of what problems they have faced. It was a very good team effort which helped me and the moment they landed from West Bengal to Assam border, they shouted: “We have reached home.” I can’t even explain how happy and jubilant they were. The smile, the happiness on the faces of the patients take away the problems we faced. There are certain things money can’t buy. As philosopher-saint Swami Vivekananda said: “Service to man is service to Go,” says Dr Neelakshi Choudhury, ENT surgeon.
Dr Bhaskar Rajkumar works at the municipal primary health clinic at Bengaluru’s Cox Town area from 8 am to 2 pm every day. But everyday after 2 pm for another eight hours, Dr Bhaskar volunteers at the Karnataka Covid-19 response war room helping coordinate medical relief efforts.
“What we do is attending to the QRT kind of responses. QRT is a Quick Response Team where we get emergency calls. We counsel patients and ensure medicine deliveries if required. There are many instances that have touched my soul. We got a case of an orphan girl. She was homeless and had an ear infection. We got her admitted to Bengaluru Municipal Hospital first and then got her treated. Then she was put into a shelter home,” says Dr Bhaskar.
The challenge that many doctors face is that the non-COVID 19 cases now get little attention. In many cases even the ambulances don’t reach on time. Dr Bhaskar fills that gap by assisting volunteers and coordinate their efforts.
“During the lockdown, even private clinics were shut. So patients could not find a hospital nearby to go in cases of emergency and they didn’t know where to go. The government put out multiple helplines. So answering those queries is what I have been doing as a volunteer,” says Dr Bhaskar.
In this pandemic, our doctors and frontline medical workers are the real heroes. We must acknowledge their sacrifice and show them respect.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Mahatma Gandhi had famously said.