Frontline nurse lives life in isolation ward
Jaipur, Apr 09: When his mother died, nurse Ram Murti Meena was at work at SMS Hospital's coronavirus isolation ward. He saw the last rites being performed on a video call on his mobile phone.
Certainly, it was a painful thing for me to skip the funeral of my mother, who died at the age of 93 in our village in Karaul district, he says.
I was on duty as the nursing in-charge of the isolation ward on March 30 when she passed away. I saw my mother's face for the last time on video call, Meena remembers.
My father and three elder brothers performed the last rites and I attended through video call. At this time of pandemic, attending to patients is the most important thing, he says.
He remained busy with his work till April 3, when he was sent into quarantine. The government hospital in Jaipur switches isolation ward staff, placing those who have put in some time there into quarantine as a precautionary measure.
Meena says being in isolation is not easy and the staff has to take care of the patients' emotional well-being as well.
The patients have to be reassured that nothing will happen to them, that they will be cured. And we give the examples of those who have turned coronavirus negative from positive, he says.
They also have to make their own families believe this.
My wife, son and daughter keep on calling me on the mobile regularly to inquire if I am fine. I have to take care of their emotions as well. When that part is done, I have to battle with my own emotions, he says.
My wife insists that I come home. She asks why just you, is there no other staff, he says. Meena tells her what if everyone quits fearing exposure to the virus.
Before it became the isolation ward for suspected coronavirus patients, it was set apart for those brought in for swine flu. He has worked there then as well.
Meena has been on coronavirus duty since January 26.
I was at home when the first suspected case was reported. I was called to the hospital. The patient fortunately tested negative. Since then I am engaged with coronavirus cases. Many have tested negative but some tested positive. At present, there are 13 positive patients in the ward, he says.
It is not just the patients who are cut off from the rest of the world.
We too are exposed to infection and therefore we also live life in isolation. It is a challenging time for doctors, nursing staff and all others, Meena says.
He says his chest swells with pride when he and other hospital staff members are praised for fighting coronavirus.
This is certainly a tough time. It is also a time to prove our mettle and dedication. I feel that it is not just a job but also a big responsibility towards society.