‘We try to make her feel happy about stay in hospital’

Kamaal Saiyed
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Devila says that the “London-returned student” missed her parents and the staff had made an arrangement for her to see her mother from a distance of 50 feet, through a glass pane. (Express photo/Representational Image)

When the 21-year-old woman, the first person to test positive for the coronavirus in Surat, got discharged from the hospital on Sunday, among those who celebrated was Devila Shah, the head nurse of Surat’s New Civil hospital.

For Devila, who has been a nurse for 31 years and has worked in different parts of Gujarat, this was her first posting at the isolation ward. She was posted in the isolation ward from March 14, which was preceded by a detailed briefing from doctors on how to protect themselves when dealing with COVID-19 patients.

The 21-year-old woman had landed in Surat from London on March 14. After she complained of cough and fever, her family immediately contacted the COVID-19 helpline and she was taken to the NCH.

Devila says that the “London-returned student” missed her parents and the staff had made an arrangement for her to see her mother from a distance of 50 feet, through a glass pane.

“She saw her mother for a few minutes and tears rolled down her face. They both waved at each other but couldn’t talk. After few minutes she was brought back to her room and we pacified her that she would become alright soon,” recalls the head nurse.

“Since March 20, we were taking care of her. We talked to her on the intercom and tried to make her feel happy about her stay in the hospital. She had just spent a day with her parents after returning from London. We would take extra care of her and she would share stories during her stay in London”, Devila told The Indian Express.

The coronavirus outbreak has changed Devila’s life a lot. She spends most of her time at her home away from the family members –her husband Jatin Shah and a son, an engineering student.

Jatin, a computer engineer who run his business in Surat, takes care of household chores.

“At this time, it is our duty to support her. We are getting support from all our relatives and even from the apartment residents of our society. She is the only person in the apartment who is in the medical field so she has helped out residents many times during emergencies.”

On getting home, the one thing that Devila does regularly before going to bed is talk to her mother Saraswati, who lives in Vadodara, and share her day’s experience.

Devila’s neighbours also help the family in fetching vegetables, grocery items and milk packets to her home.

Residents Welfare Association (RWA) president Jayesh Desai said, “We are proud to have such a family in our apartment. During any emergency, even late in the night, we have the green light to knock on the Shah’s door. Now with the coronavirus, we all have decided to help the family as far as possible. We have also proposed that Jatin should not cook and that the women in the apartment will pitch in. But he has refused. The apartment residents take care of bringing all the house hold items for them.”

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?