Coronavirus: 'Stranded' doctors in Dubai put time to good use, serve as volunteers

Coronavirus: 'Stranded' doctors in Dubai put time to good use, serve as volunteers

Dubai: Stories of stranded people are often about complaints, but here is one Indian couple, who got stranded in Dubai, but put their time to good use.

Laparoscopic surgeon from India Dr J.S. Rajkumar and his physician wife Dr Chitralekha Rajkumar, who had flown to Dubai from Chennai, India, found themselves stranded after the flights got suspended and India declared a lockdown. But far from complaining about their situation, they decided to volunteer at the Al Warsan Isolation and Quarantine Centre.

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Dr KS Rajkumar and his wife Dr Chitralekha Rajkumar

Talking about their experience to Gulf News, Dr Rajkumar said: “I have been a consulting surgeon at a couple of hospitals here and usually fly down periodically to take care of my patients. My wife and I flew down in the second week of March and were to go back to Chennai on March 22 when we found we were in the middle of a lockdown."

"We are both on the wrong side of 50, so there was an element of risk amid the COVID-19 climate. But as doctors, this was hardly a deterrent for us to throw ourselves headlong into the battle against COVID 19, instead of watching movies and indulging in online yoga. So I wrote to the Indian High Commission offering our services,” recounted the doctor who is the founder and chairman of the Lifeline Institute of Minimal Access (LIMA) in Chennai.

‘Work was tough but immensely satisfying’

The couple was assigned to a block of 500 patients and both put in about 12-hour straight shifts for four days a week. “We did night duty and most of the time, the patients came in for registration through the night. We were dealing with receiving the stream of patients coming in, checking their vital parameters, getting their nasal swab test done and writing out case histories before admission. Despite the air-conditioning, we would be sweating below layers of PPE, but we got acclimatised to it,” recalled Dr Rajkumar who recently finished his six-week duty at Warsan and has now gone on to running a COVID-19 unit as medical director of a health care centre in Dubai.

What really impressed the couple is the work of the UAE healthcare authorities and volunteers who have been working selflessly to combat COVID-19.

Refusing to take any remuneration for their services at the isolation centre, Dr Rajkumar aid: “The input from us was from our hearts and purely voluntary. We believe the purity of this endeavor would be tainted by the receipt of any remuneration.”

He said the they instead asked the Indian missions to donate the amount to the widows of a COVID-19 patient and an Indian soldier, besides an Indian family needing funds for repatriation.

Dr Chitralekha said: "While COVID duties have been tough on our bodies, they were truly soothing to the soul. We are going through the worst period in human history but what is amazing is how it has managed to bring out the best in all of us. This to me has been the greatest lesson.”