Despite floods destroying their livelihood, these doctors soldier on


Despite floods destroying their livelihood, these doctors soldier on
By Zan Azlee

Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam is very close to where I live. So close that there are certain things there that are considered regular elements in my lifestyle. For example, my regular auto bodywork shop is there.

The nearest police station for me to obtain permission to travel during the MCO (Movement Control Order) was there. But not near enough for my neighbourhood to be affected by the devastating floods that happened last week.

It also meant that I could not ignore the obvious responsibility to provide help for my neighbours. Both my wife and I have been doing a little bit of what we can.

 We dedicated the proceeds of the sales of some of our books in order to gather some funds to buy necessary items for families affected, and we also dedicated a bit of our time and manpower.

That is the little that we can do. There are many others who are doing much more than us that is very inspiring to see as we move into the new year. It also gives hope and positivity especially as we have been going through a tough two years.

So I would like to highlight a story that I found during one of my trips to Taman Seri Muda.

Clinic destroyed

Dr Shalini Devi Ramachandran and her husband Dr Yuveneswara Murti run Klinik Aranda in Taman Sri Muda. When the floods hit, their clinic was destroyed.

My wife and I heard of what happened to them through news stories that talked about how they were providing free health treatment for patients despite their clinic being destroyed.

We hooked her up with our neighbour (who we will just refer to as Steven since he is quite media shy!) who is a very handyman and also very helpful. He went over to see what he could do to help.

The doctors were seeing patients on the street under a tent that was donated by a good samaritan. This didn’t fly for Steven.

So he decided that he would fix up two small rooms in the destroyed clinic as a temporary treatment place so patients wouldn’t have to be outside. There was a lot of work that was needed to be done.

Walls and floors were caked in mud and dirt. The entire place was dank and damp. Electricity was restored but since everything was still wet, it was dangerous to use.

Help from friends

But Steven is a resourceful person. He changed some wiring and plug points so they could be used. Then, he modified and restored the broken doors of the two rooms. He needed help, so he recruited one of his friends, and my wife and me.

We did the heavy cleaning where we mopped and washed the floors and walls so that it would be clean for the patients.

It took the whole day and night till about 3 am for everything to be completely done. I had to leave halfway because I had to take care of my youngest son at home, but the rest soldiered on.

The doctors now no longer have to carry on their treatments outdoors. Things are still not ideal, but much better temporarily.

Dr Shalini and her husband will be providing the free clinic service for about 20 days, or for as long as they have medication. Currently, medicine is being donated by individuals and one or two organisations.

But they could definitely use more. According to her, they have been seeing an average of around 130 patients a day. And they try not to turn anyone away.

They are doing a very noble thing and this is despite the fact that they have so much to think about when it comes to their destroyed clinic.

All of the medication that they had in stock was destroyed by the floodwaters. Dr Shalini says that the pharmaceutical company is refusing to replace the medicine.

Other than that, expensive equipment was also destroyed. Their X-ray and ultrasound machines are no longer working. These equipment are expensive and run in the hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

It is leased and they are continuing to have to pay for it. Funnily, insurance will only cover for one machine and not the other.

And this hasn’t yet counted the damage to the physical clinic space itself. Whatever Steven has done is only temporary. Renovations and repairs will have to be done.

Help the community

And that is going to cost a lot of money too seeing that their clinic is not insured. But despite all of this, as I said, they have decided to provide for the local community first.

I am sure there are many more people like Dr Shalini and Dr Yuveneswara, or even Steven for that matter.

Moving into the new year of 2022, I feel blessed to have encountered these people. It makes me more hopeful that our society has enough good seeds to keep us going.

So to all Malaysians, have a happy new year and here’s to all of us being better people in 2022.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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