The paradox built around Churachandpur District Hospital in times of Covid

C Thangminlal Doungel *

 Churachandpur District Hospital on July 19 2014
Churachandpur District Hospital on July 19 2014

Today, rumours spread faster and quicker than ever. These kind of gossips spread quickly with unrestrained technology in the palm of our hands. Often, they have no base and are devoid of pieces of evidence to support the claims. Yet, many people still choose to believe these baseless assumptions and construct their world views and perspectives that are so grounded and hard to deconstruct, even with evidence !

This ambiguity is due to the lack of awareness and appropriate education on the impact of words on the street. And our inability to decode the truth from false is the root cause of all ailments in society.

I encountered waves of confusion and fear relating to Covid when I returned to my hometown in April. I had to flee from the marauding second wave that shattered Delhi during this time. Since I had the practical experience of seeing the devastation from a close range, it was an effortless conviction to establish that Covid was genuine and fatal. However, the deep-rooted sense of ignorance at home was alarming.

Many are against vaccination and testing, and the utterance of the same is unilaterally opposed. Later, I gradually unearthed that the fear psychosis already inbuilt in their thoughts and minds that Corona was fake, from the many rumours on social media had already established their roots.

The Paradox

One of the saddest things that envelop the minds of the people are to do with unreliable facts. That is because the society we cohabit in is tilted easily towards that fulfilment. The belief is often so entrenched that no amount of cajoling could persuade them sometimes. Those who even attempted to convince those obstinate minds sound like fools themselves.

The story built around Churachandpur District Hospital (CDH) is one such example swollen with unreliable truth. That, anyone, even with minor symptoms is coaxed and admitted to the isolation ward, where their chances of survival are grim once admitted. And any death in the ward is blamed to be Covid while burying shreds of evidence of other perpetual sicknesses the person has had.

And that, the Doctors and Nurses are casual in taking care of the sick patients. These are the narratives built by those who campaign against vaccination and testing. And those who do not wish to admit themselves to the hospital on account of Covid join this bandwagon. They religiously hold on to this belief that the best way to be safe is not to get tested no matter what.

Elaborated with many facts (as the claimants made), the story has negatively impacted the common masses. Some go to the extent of opposing every initiative taken by the district Health Department, restricting the prospect of immunizing the community and exposing everyone to greater vulnerability.

I was the victim of this belief, interpreted against the inside reality. I agree death does occur almost daily on account of Covid complications. But there is an underlying reason for all these maladies that lies uncovered. Those who died are often the ‘vulnerable patients’ — those with a history of other perpetual sicknesses inherent in them.

Another reason is to do with the apathy to get it tested on time despite all the probable symptoms, for fear of the stigma attached with the Covid patient. Most of the alleged victims hold on to the pain and misery, and only as a last resort do they seek doctors’ intervention when all chances at hand are almost exhausted.

Another reason probably is due to lack of understanding of the disease and taking things for granted despite repeated cautions. The progress we have had in several domains still fails to transform our way of thinking and attitude, thereby, failing us to build a future that is secure for all of us.

Dispelling the doubts: My Experience

My younger brother tested positive on the 8th of July, 2021. Before the testing, he was already down with a high fever, severe cough,and acute chest pain for almost a week. These symptoms were quite similar to the epidemic viral fever that is making its footprint across the community. Hence, we did not feel the need to consult the doctor; home medication would suffice, we thought.

However, with no sign of relief, we rushed him to Samaritan Nursing Home, Tuiboung, on this fateful day and got him tested (RAT). He eventually tested positive. The CT Scan report later confirmed 46 to 48 percent lung involvement. We just made it on time !

Initially, I was reluctant to go to CDH due to the many rumours that have already permeated my mind. Thanks to Dr Thanglalmung Neihsial for his decisiveness and promptness in initiating all formalities to seek the doctors’ intervention here at CDH. His timely call was crucial in easing the pain and anguish my brother had endured for more than a week.

His advice was critical in dispelling all my doubts and fears. True to his assertion, the alertness of the nurses and other frontline workers in extending their helping hands was laudable. The considerate and cordial roommates in the hospital were the icing on the cake.

I stayed behind as a caretaker but did not confine myself to extending care alone. I took my time to study and observe how accurate or false are the claims that scared me so much. Parallelly, I intended to dispel the myths and confusion surrounding the hospital. My target audience is the people who are still skeptical of the yeomen service rendered at CDH.

In no way can I tell you the whole inside story, nor my effort do justice to the many invaluable services the patients have received from the medical community at CDH. But my endeavour is to try and use this piece of writing as a canvas to paint anew the peripheries of the already tainted picture of the hospital from an insider perspective, relating to Covid and the patients it has already stricken.

As a keen observer, I came across many Covid patients fighting hard for their life. While some emerged victoriously, some lost the combat in the process. Alongside, I also witnessed frontline workers, especially the nurses giving their all for the weary patients. Round the clock, with utmost patience and diligence, with their PPE kit on them at all times, no matter the weather condition of the day.

When anxiousness clouds the room, the accessibility of the nurses on duty ushers in a lot of hope and renewed strength. With utmost discipline and fulfilment of their duty, the nurses deserve all accolades; it’s a credit we all owe them. This culture within the hospital premises in time such as now was what I hadn’t expected at all. What I have seen and experienced was in stark contrast to the claims that shaped my opinion previously.

The Way Forward

I was lucky enough to have interacted and listened to patients who have recovered from the ordeal. They narrated their journey with utmost excitement—from hopelessness to confidence, and then their ultimate recovery. One thing they all regretted in common was that they did not get themselves admitted on time. They curse themselves for having to languish in pain and agony just because of their stiff-neck attitude.

When asked, what do you learn from this incident ? All of them wish that they should have come earlier for admission to the hospital.

Friends, there’s a saying: “A stitch in time saves nine.” The same is applicable in the case of Covid too. Timely treatment tames the deadly virus. “Never be ashamed to be called positive”, asserted one of the patients who recently recovered. It is indeed the only way to secure the path to recovery.

Society shouldn’t look at these patients with contempt and stigmatise them. We must acknowledge that their courage to come forward and get tested is our roadmap to security. It was our adherence to the above adage that paved way for us to walk out of the hospital with a thumping win over Covid. All glory to God ! It is my prayer that our testimony persuades and transforms the way you approach the dreaded Covid.

Let us join hands in deterring the same from claiming more precious lives. Last, but not least — get vaccinated, tested, and admitted if need be. And most importantly, CDH is a safe place. And it is for you and me to avail the facilities provided without any hint of hesitation or doubt.

(Views expressed are personal)

* C Thangminlal Doungel wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Research Scholar @ National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), New Delhi
and can be reached at Thangminlal1994(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 16 2021.

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