While ‘The Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh and his wife Nirmal Kaur are at their Sector 8 home in Chandigarh along with their son Jeev Milkha Singh following the nationwide lockdown, the 90-year-old former athlete’s second oldest daughter Dr Mona Singh has been busy treating coronavirus patients at the Metropolitan Hospital in New York for the last 45 days.
With New York, one of the worst-hit cities in the US, seeing around 1,30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths, Dr Mona Singh, among the first responder to the Covid-19 patients, has been on 12-hour shifts at the Emergency Response ward of the Metropolitan hospital.
“The first few cases were diagnosed in New York in mid-March but then there were several cases with no symptoms. As an emergency physician, we are the first to respond to the Covid-19 patients and there are many challenges. The first is to drop the fear of getting infected and get used to the challenge of putting the PPE kit with full precautions. The third and the toughest challenge is to endure the emotional trauma of seeing young lives lost amid this pandemic. Though every life is worth saving, seeing young people die does leave mental scars. But then we as doctors regroup and sometimes talk to family members to channelise our thoughts. I talk with my family, including my father and brother Jeev Milkha Singh, and they always boost my confidence,” shared Dr Mona Singh, while talking over phone from New York.
Mona completed her medical degree from Patiala Medical College before shifting to the USA in the 1980s where she did her internship at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey. At present, she is working as an Emergency Physician with the Metropolitan Hospital. With 111 ICU beds at present and 74 on the anvil, it is among the major facilities handling Covid patients in New York.
Her mother and former Indian volleyball captain Nirmal Mikha Singh confesses that initially she was worried. “But Mona knows her work very well and is taking all possible precautions. She is among the 3-4 doctors who handle the Covid-19 patients on their arrival and provide breathing support to them.“
She described how Mona wears a four-layer protective suit that leaves her shoulders hurting after a 12-hour shift. “Sometimes, she sounds disheartened after seeing so many deaths but then she gets back to work. Talking with us lifts her spirits,” shares Nirmal Milkha Singh.
Youngest of Mona’s siblings and 14-time International title winner golfer Jeev Milkha Singh too makes it a point to have a word with his sister every day. “The situation in USA has worsened with more than seven lakh cases and 40,000 deaths. In New York, cases of people shooting family members out of depression have also come up and Mona has also handled some gunshot wound patients amid responding to Covid-19 patients,” says Jeev, adding that doctors are humans too and are under tremendous stress. “So I told her to do Sukhmani Sahib ji path twice daily,” shares Jeev.