Healing with a smile, sacrificing their comfort, personal life

May 13th, 2010 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) They carry on the legacy of Florence Nightingale serving with a smile in the battle against disease and death. Tending to the ailing and the maimed is the aim, and delivering to young mothers the bundles of their joy the means of satisfaction to these nurses. They take health care door to door, often sacrificing their own personal life.
At the age of 74, while most of her contemporaries are enjoying a retired life, Annapurna Tiwari is busy delivering babies. A retired auxiliary nurse midwife in Indore, Tiwari is one of the winners of the National Florence Nightingale Awards for Nursing Personnel this year, presented Wednesday.

“I want to work till the day I die. Serving these people is my only aim,” said Tiwari who has helped several poor women by delivering babies at home. “I go whenever they call me. At times they come to my home.”

Remembering an incident, she said once a woman undergoing labour pains came to her house and gave birth right outside the house.

A citation, a medal and Rs.50,000 is what these 24 nurses got at the award ceremony. Their real reward, however, is the satisfaction of service.

“Awards are not important. The satisfaction we get from our service is the main thing,” Tiwari said.

Similar sentiments came from other recipients of the prestigious nursing awards recognising the crucial contribution these professionals make in the field of health care.

Shanti Teresa Lakra, an auxiliary nurse midwife who lives in Little Andaman islands and serves the local Onge tribals, received the award for her exceptional service, particularly after the tsunami that ravaged the islands in 2004.

But the 35-year-old Lakra had to make a major sacrifice. “I have to live without my only son,” she said with moist eyes.

“My son was born here. Even during my pregnancy, I was working here in the island. I did my own medical checkup as going to the nearest primary health centre meant long walks and a risky trip on a dongee (paddle boat),” Lakra recalls. She said she left the island only a week before her scheduled delivery, and almost drowned in the turbulent sea.

Lakra stayed with Onges after the tsunami. “I had to live in tents with other male members,” she says, adding she had to walk through dense forest and cross two rivers to reach the temporary settlement to get the medicines.

However, the post-tsunami situation did not allow her to continue keeping her year-old son along. “It was a difficult situation and I was unable to take care of my son. I could not even feed him properly. My mother-in-law took him away to our home in the Middle Andaman. He is six years old now,” Lakra said.

“He is happy with my in-laws,” she says, adding: “This has only increased my dedication to the tribals in the island. I can now pay full attention to them.”

Of the 24 nurses who won the award, each one has a different story of dedication. Some also sought that nurses be recognised at par with doctors.

Rama Devi Mattoo, nursing superintendent at the Indira Gandhi Hospital and Medical College in Shimla, said nurses should not be treated as subordinates of doctors.

“Nurses contribute to 80 per cent of the healing. Yet we are not even registered as practitioners. A pharmacist with one year training gets a licence, a nurse does not get licence even if she has done a doctorate,” she said.

But at the end of the day, they have no regrets. “Our service is our satisfaction. Citations and awards encourage, but they are not the aim,” Mattoo added.



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