AIIMS nurse skips grandmother’s funeral for Covid duty: ‘Who else will take care of patients?’

AIIMS nurse skips grandmother’s funeral for Covid duty: ‘Who else will take care of patients?’

The last time AIIMS nursing officer Rakhi John spoke to her grandmother — or amma, as she called her, because she was almost like a mother to her — was a day before she was admitted to an ICU in Thiruvananthapuram.

As John looked after the health of Covid patients admitted at AIIMS, her 78-year-old grandmother also battled with the virus until her death on Sunday.

“I was in so much pain that day… She had raised me as her own child, took care of my education and everything else after my mother died from leukaemia when I was just a year old. She was my amma… but this disease is such that patients who wish to see their loved ones for one last time, and families wanting to say a final goodbye, are not able to do so,” said John (34).

She decided that her presence was needed more for patients she was looking after than her grandmother’s funeral in Kerala, even during which, owing to Covid protocols requiring bodies to be sealed in a bag, she could not have seen her face one final time.

“I think of my amma every time I watch the patients here in my ward. So many people are in the same situation as mine, including other staff here. If healthcare workers start taking holidays, who will take care of people? So many of us, nurses and doctors, are getting infected, but everyone, right from sanitation workers to security guards, are all working very hard to help us. So I just want to ask people to please wear masks and follow Covid protocols,” John said as she prepared for her night shift at AIIMS, where she has been working since 2014.

She has been on Covid duty since April 25 this year, when the virus began surging again in the capital and in most parts of the country.

Her grandmother was admitted to the government medical college during the same time. “When she was in the hospital, we spoke on the phone briefly. She was asthmatic as well, so we could not talk much. Then she had to be admitted to ICU, and no one from our family could speak to her during this time… On Sunday afternoon, I was told she died,” said John.

This is her first Covid duty after her maternity leave. Her daughter is about a year old.

“I used to be worried in the initial days, but I feel much better now because we take all precautions and wear complete PPE kits. I feel happy knowing that I am able to contribute something to the country through my work,” said John.

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