I’ll work till I’m immobile: Florence Nightingale of Bhubaneswar (Feature, With Image)

January 20th, 2010 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

By Byomakesh Biswal
Bhubaneswar, Jan 20 (IANS) In 1998, Shashiprabha Devi stood outside the Capital Hospital here with a strange request. A week into retirement, she wanted to return to her job as a nurse. And she did not want to be paid for it.

Shashiprabha, a native of Chikiti in Ganjam district of Orissa, joined the government-run hospital as a nurse after completing her nursing degree in 1961. She worked her way up to becoming a senior staff nurse, handling cases in the cardiology department.

She had stayed single and after she retired in 1998 she thought it was time to relax. But that was not to be. Just a week later she found herself at the hospital asking for her old job - but without remuneration.

“When I retired, I thought I would enjoy my time at home. But just a week of staying at home bored me. I soon realised the horror of being at home for the rest of my life,” Shashiprabha, now in her seventies, recalled to IANS.

Since she was quite popular at the hospital, job offers came from several private hospitals. But she turned down these offers. After 37 years she did not want to work for money any more. She preferred to give something back to society in the “little way” she could.

“Yes there were many offers since trained nurses in cardiology department were in high demand. But I turned down all these offers. I thought working free will give me a sense of satisfaction,” she said.

She requested the hospital authorities to give her a chance to serve again for free.

Faced with such a strange request, the hospital authorities sought directions from the higher-ups in the health department, which allowed her to work but on the condition that she would follow the schedule fixed by the authorities “as a regular employee”.

“She has been working in our hospital without any remuneration for more than 11 years. The health department has given her special permission to work, seeing her dedication towards work,” said Umakant Mishra, the chief medical officer at Capital Hospital.

Her colleagues say that she never misses a day at work. She has adopted her workplace “as an extension of her home”, earning kudos from all colleagues.

“She has not only set an example for others for her selfless work but also for her superior skills,” said Sachidananda Murty, the head of the cardiology department.

Speaking about working after retirement, Shashiprabha said: “It is the best time to work. I have already earned a living and pension out of the work. It is time to pay back to society. And I want to serve in the best way possible.

“My workplace is like a home to me. It is the place where I have got appreciation. Life is work and I can’t imagine life without work.”

Asked till when she would continue to be nurse, she said: “I will continue to work till I become immobile.”

(Byomakesh Biswal can be contacted at byomakesh.b@ians.in)

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