Monday morning at the Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s (VMC) Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) in Sama area is extremely busy. A serpentine queue for Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test forms even as staff members attend to various calls and visitors.
Seated in one corner of a room of the centre is its supervisor, Pallavi Kasote. After four months of being on field for Covid-19 duty, Pallavi has now been assigned office work that involves data entry, supervision and other administrative tasks at the centre.
The 30-year-old first-time expectant mother is anxious about how things will shape up until October, when she meets her bundle of joy — she is 36 weeks pregnant. However, the anxiety has not deterred her from performing her duty during the times of the pandemic.
Pallavi, who was part of the VMC health teams that conducted door-to-door health surveillance during the outbreak of the virus, took a backseat after a scare in the sixth month of her pregnancy.
“I had developed fever, cold and mild bleeding around June after the door-to-door survey and other field work. My medical officer told me to get a Covid-19 test and luckily, I tested negative. My superiors told me that I should take it as a sign my unborn child and I are being protected. I had a second typhoid-like infection last month and took medicines for it, but I have remained brave and continued reporting to duty. Although now, I avoid field visits and my superiors ensure that my interaction with visitors at the center is also minimum,” said Pallavi, who is an auxiliary nurse midwife. About a week ago, Pallavi had handled a rush at the center while other officers were away.
Her family, she said, is worried but also supportive. “Last week, I got a duty in the Outpatient Department and my husband (a bank executive) was a bit worked up. He came to the center and requested my superiors to give me a concession and they agreed. I am working because we are yet to financially settle, but as a contractual employee, I am not sure if my contract will be extended even after its expiry two months later. My passion is driving me right now,” she said.
Pallavi said that while the pandemic has taken the world by storm, the thought of welcoming a new life cheers her up.
“Everyone in our family is waiting for this baby. Be it a boy or a girl, I will name the baby something that means priye (beloved). My elder sister and her husband, who are both nursing staff at the civil hospital in Pune, are on Covid ICU duty. They are in an even more dangerous position than I am. We take this as a storm that we must brave, which will soon pass,” she said.
Pallavi said that her mother, who works as a teacher with an NGO that educates street children through ‘footpath paathshalas’ in Vadodara, is her source of inspiration. “I am aware that my life will change next month. I may not even return to this job but at this moment, I want to do my bit in this fight against Covid. My mother always tells us to show tenacity in difficult situations. I will pass on the same values to my child and this phase of my work during Covid will, perhaps, inspire my child to also be selfless in serving society,” said Pallavi.
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