Disability, COVID-19 didn’t deter Chhattisgarh woman from serving patients


Express News Service

RAIPUR:  Girija Jhalchatri, 35, belongs to the Chhattisgarh capital and is nearly half disabled. She isn’t a frontline worker and, unlike them, had a choice to stay home. But she chose to be with Covid patients at a time when the state is among the worst affected by the pandemic.

In early April, amid acute shortage of beds and a surge in new Covid cases, the state government turned a big indoor stadium into a dedicated Covid care centre with a 330-bed facility in the state capital. Unmindful of her disability, Girja joined the care centre from April 13 when as many 250 patients were admitted on the first day.

She was given the registration work, which included handling of the influx of Covid patients daily. Covered in a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit, she assists the patients to their allotted bed in the ward, checks their oxygen levels, the pulse rate and maintains their records. “I never felt my disability was a hurdle. Helping the people in need of urgent medical attention gives me a feeling of satisfaction.

While recording information on individual patients I feel a sense of duty”, says Girja, who has studied up to Class XII. She says her experience of having worked with NGOs helps her in the current job. Her work is voluntary as she has refused to take any remuneration and works for eight hours a day. Her equally constructive role is counseling and extending emotional support to the patients who are often fear-stricken after testing positive. “Some parents accompanying the patients are panicky and tend to lose hope.

I listen to them carefully and engage them in a conversation to raise their morale to reduce the immediate distress. Dealing with the elderly is a bit challenging,” says Girja. Is she not afraid of catching the infection? “If we strictly comply with the Covid protocol and remain devoted to our work, then there is nothing to worry”, she says. Manjeet Kaur, a social activist, is impressed by Girja’s work. “She is a hardworking woman who supports patients in the recovery process,” says Kaur.

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