In any healthcare institution (hospital), the most important person in the hospital is the specialist doctor. The nurses and technologists are also important members of the team, but many fail to understand that even the lowest level of healthcare worker, e.g. a stretcher bearer or a driver of an ambulance could meant a lot to the suffering patient.

This is the story of an unfortunate 35-year old clerical assistant in a company in Sulur, Coimbatore. He had chest discomfort and sweating, went to an Ayurvedic hospital, where he was promptly referred to a nearby ‘Cardiologist’, who thought in his wisdom that the patient should go to a hospital with Cathlab facilities (Interventional Cardiology).

The doctor called up Dr. Nitthiyan, Chief Interventional Cardiologist of KG Hospital, and mentioned to him that he is sending a patient for whom he is suspecting of ‘heart attack’.

The patient went home walking and caught a bus and reached the railway station. From there, he caught an auto and came to KG Hospital.

In the portico of the hospital, he was told that Dr. Nitthiyan had gone for lunch. He was sitting in the reception without much complaints. A stretcher bearer by name Damodaran happened to see him sitting there in the patient bench for half an hour and offered to help by saying: “Sir, can I help you?” He said that he was waiting for the doctor. He said ‘come over with me in wheel chair to the cardiology department’. When the patient reached the cardiology department, the secretary to Dr. Nitthiyan was mentioned that she was expecting the patient. She mentioned that she was not aware that the patient was waiting down the stairs.

The patient was immediately taken to the coronary care unit. On reaching the door of the coronary care unit, the patient became unconscious. Gomathy of CCU found the blood pressure was 40 (?). She administered the necessary resuscitation drugs.

Subsequeently, Dr. Nitthiyan came. The patient underwent rescue angioplasty, meaning the patient’s life was rescued by appropriate cardiac intervention.

The story is that a healthcare worker like Damodaran is given the training to observe and understand the seriousness of the situation and also a self esteem that he can also contribute towards saving the life of a patient. It was wonderistic.

To my surprise, Dr. M.R. Pai was saying that this is the way the hospitals should give “self esteem” to every member of the hospital as a team and he was appreciating Dr. G. Bakthavathsalam, Chairman of KG Hospital, for bringing this culture of training to every member of the team and giving every member of the team and giving every member of the team credit for ‘saving lives’, so that he will rise up to the occasion.

Thanks to Damodaran. Even though he is a stretcher bearer and not educated, he does not show that he is a ‘stretcher bearer’, but he says I am a life saver’ (Uir Kakkum Velai).

(Dr. G. Bakthavathsalam)

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