Updated: September 23, 2021 7:37:11 am
Three decades since she began her nursing career, Mariamma M C, winner of the recent National Florence Nightingale Award conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind, continues to be highly motivated at work.
The 51-year-old, who now works at a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Koila in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district, shared her success mantra and said, “I see my own family member in each person who comes to me for medical assistance and the smile that they gift me when they feel better is the best I can ever ask for.” Mariamma hails from Puttur.
According to officials, she was successful in implementing and overseeing several health programmes by the National Rural Health Mission at the state and central level. An Auxiliary Nursing & Midwifery (ANM) graduate of the 1987 batch of Wenlock Hospital, she has a track record of conducting over 500 successful childbirth deliveries.
“It is some blessing from the Almighty that I could complete all deliveries without any mortality of either the child or the mother. Several children have later come to our PHC in Hoskote during their school days or some even later to greet me after their parents told them about me. Such moments are priceless and I cherish them a lot,” Mariamma told The Indian Express.
Placed first as a Junior Health Assistant at Belthangady Taluk General Hospital in December 1990, Mariamma was later transferred to Hoskote where she served at the Nandagudui PHC for over 20 years.
While at the Nandagudui PHC, Mariamma developed a close connection with the people around. “I had developed a close connection with the people at Nandagudui and six other sub-centres linked to it right from the beginning. I would be invited to most of their family functions and the community grew together as our work there equipped them with more health awareness,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mariamma was married to Umesh, a lab technician then from Belthangady, after which she gave birth to their son Arvin U K, now a student of BCA in Bengaluru. “People from Nandagudui still say that they remember the sight of me walking kilomteres to reach the beneficiaries of various health schemes with my son, a bag and an umbrella. Their approach towards ensuring that my kid grew well and my family was assisted in case of emergencies, drew me closer to them, fuelling more responsibility towards ensuring their good health and welfare,” she added.
This is not the first time Mariamma was picked as a winner of an award for her service. She was adjudged ‘Best Health Assistant’ in 2007 and was recognised to operate the ‘Best Sub Centre’ in 2011 by the state government under NHRM.
When asked what drove her passion towards picking up nursing as a career, Mariamma said she had always aspired to serve the needy. “I used to observe how health workers were prompt to arrive with medicines, organise various immunisation drives and share knowledge on health and wellbeing with people. My interest in social work fuelled my interest to pick ANM as assisting pregnant women to bring a new life to this earth was something I considered as a blessing,” she said.
Promoted as Senior Primary Health officer four months back, Mariamma is now placed at Koila PHC in Puttur taluk, a few kilometres away from her birthplace Noojibalthila village. Born to Malayali parents M V Chacko, a farmer, and Annamma Chacko, Mariamma is the third among five children her parents raised.
Like several others, managing Covid-19 was one of the greatest learnings she had in her illustrious career to date. “We saw people panicking and fearing death. This led to many refusing even to get tested initially as they also feared social exclusion. However, we were soon able to convince them of the need to get diagnosed and get treated (if Covid positive) at the earliest to keep the infection in check,” she said.
Mariamma is one among 51 winners picked this year for the National Florence Nightingale Award, the highest national acclaim a nurse can achieve for selfless devotion and exceptional professionalism. Constituted by the Union Health Ministry in 1973, each winner is awarded Rs 50,000 as a cash prize, a certificate, a citation and a medal.
Although the event was held virtually this year owing to the Covid-19 situation, Mariamma hopes to meet President Ram Nath Kovind someday. “We (winners) have been added to a WhatsApp group where we can see and share work from different parts of the state. The group also aspires to get together someday to visit the President who would have conferred the awards directly if not for the ongoing pandemic situation,” she said with a smile.
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