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Updated: November 26, 2009 01:04 IST

The Noahs of Cama

Rahi Gaikwad
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HEALING THE SPIRIT: A man looks out of the closed gate of Cama & Albless Hospitals, where terorrists Ajmal Qasab and Abu Ismail entered and killed four people. File photo
The Hindu HEALING THE SPIRIT: A man looks out of the closed gate of Cama & Albless Hospitals, where terorrists Ajmal Qasab and Abu Ismail entered and killed four people. File photo

Neonatal ICU staff crawled on the floor to feed infants in the ward. Many workers have been here for 15 to 20 years, but have not been made permanent.

Acting as a human shield, staff nurse Anjali Kulthe shifted a patient from Cama maternity hospital ward to the second floor for delivery where terrorists laid siege on 26/11.

Another nurse, Meenakshi Musale, and her staff crawled on the floor to feed infants in their ward. Jayashri Kurdhundkar performed two successful deliveries. Battling his own fears, attendant Dhondu Parab lifted the morale of distraught relatives of pregnant women.

Each story tells the tale of courage and commendable response to the call of duty in the face of grave danger. In their role as caregivers, the Cama hospital staff echo the same pride in their profession.

“It is the uniform that made us responsible for our patients’ well-being. We think the uniform has special powers. Not a single mother or child was hurt during the entire ordeal at Cama.”

Ms. Kulthe of the Antenatal Care Ward, who saw Mohammed Ajmal Amir ‘Kasab’ through the window, deposed before the court in her uniform. “I told the Crime Branch, just as you are proud of your uniform, so am I.” When her pregnant patients lost all hope and their relatives made frantic calls, she became their pillar of strength.

“This building was shaking as if there was an earthquake. We thought this was our last night. The relatives called and said they were coming to take the patients. I asked, how on earth are you going to come in the first place? The police have surrounded this place. I told them to trust me and not call again. I stood guard at the door. If at all, the first bullet would have hit me,” she says.

‘I shifted her myself’

At 1.30 a.m., a patient went into labour. “I asked her, ‘can you bear it?’ But her condition was serious — she had hypertension. I peeped out of the window and told the police that I wanted to shift a patient. They assured me of help, but no one came. So I decided to take the patient to the second floor Labour Ward myself. I walked in the front giving her cover. We kept to the wall, lest the terrorists saw us from top.”

In nurse Ms. Musale’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), there were six mothers and 11 babies. One baby was on ventilator support. “We put that infant on a 12-hour drip and placed diapers round him so that he would not be cold. Other infants were moved to the corners of the room, away from the windows. They had to be fed every two hours. We would crawl on the floor every now and then to feed them.” The alert was sounded in the NICU when a bullet hit a window. “I thought people were bursting crackers since there was a cricket match that day. In fact, I went to the window and started shouting. I saw one person sitting and the other appeared to be firing,” Ms. Musale recalls.

Gauze to fasten doors

The news of terrorists entering the hospital sent the doctors and nurses hunting for locks. Since most latches were coming off, machines and trolleys were placed against the doors. In other wards, the staff used gauze to fasten the doors.

For all the effort and quick-thinking on part of the staff, no official praise came their wayIn fact, many workers who have been with the hospital for 15 to 20 years have not been made permanent, says Mr. Parab.


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