Angel with a stethoscope: Nurse provides motherly touch to pregnant women

By Lamphrang Nongspung

SHILLONG, Dec 28: “A nurse is one who opens the eyes of a newborn and gently closes the eyes of a dying man. It is indeed a high blessing to be the first and last to witness the beginning and end of life.”
Helping a newborn open its eyes to see the world we live in is a daily chore for 53-year-old Sister Veronica Vuantei.
Originally hailing from Aizawl, the humble nurse has been providing relentless services to the people, especially pregnant mothers, of Sohklong and adjoining villages in Mawsynram since 2018 through the St. Xavier Care and Support Centre located there.
She feels that the motherly care she renders to her patients is normal but her feat is tremendous — Sister Veronica has attended to a total number of 7,463 patients during the lockdown period since 2020. She has personally attended to 57 deliveries since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year. Since 2018, she has assisted in 146 deliveries.
Sister Veronica is a member of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC) of North East India which runs the centre at Sohklong village with the sole objective of providing healthcare services to people from remote hamlets.
“…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” This was the motto Sister Veronica adopted when she decided to become a nurse. She completed her General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) studies from Nazareth Nursing School in the year 2000 and worked at Nazareth Hospital for two years after completing her studies.
She was later transferred to the health centre at Sonapahar near Shallang in West Khasi Hills and worked there for six years.
Fluent in Khasi, Sister Veronica had also worked at Babadam government PHC and the health centre at Nonghyllam before she was transferred to the support centre at Sohklong village.
She has been running the 11-bed support centre which includes a single bed in the delivery room with the able support of two of her staff from Nonghyllam — Kyntiewlang Hahshah (21) and Kyntiewdor Kharnaior (42).
Speaking with this scribe on Tuesday, Sister Veronica said she was happy to have ensured 100% successful deliveries of 146 newborns since November 11, 2018.
“I successfully helped in one more delivery today,” she said with satisfaction writ large on her face.
Committed to the cause, Sister Veronica said her primary focus was to take care of pregnant mothers from various villages within Mawsynram and to ensure safe delivery of newborns.
“I am happy that there are no cases of MMR deaths except three cases of still birth,” she said.
Asked about the COVID-19 protocols, she said she does not conduct COVID-19 tests since there is apprehension among the villagers over the test.
“I do have COVID-19 test kits with me. But I have experienced that most pregnant women are afraid of visiting the Community Health Centres (CHC) due to fear of being tested for COVID-19. These pregnant mothers come to our support centre for delivery since we do not conduct any COVID-19 test,” Sister Veronica said.
She pointed out that the only question she asks the pregnant mothers is whether they are accompanied by their parents or husband.
“I never ask for their age since some of them are under the age of 18 years. These young pregnant mothers are afraid to go to the CHC because they will have to reveal their age there,” she said.
She admitted that she had been told to inform the police if pregnant minor visit the support.
“But I am a missionary and I want to ensure that these young pregnant mothers do not to face any hardship or problems. I do not think there is anything wrong if these minors do not disclose their age. I have taken up this profession as a mission to save the lives of these patients,” she candidly admitted.
Asked about the problems she faces in running the support centre, Sister Veronica said it is difficult to cater to the outpatients on a 24X7 basis. “We stop seeing patients after 9 pm,” she said.
“We are working hard with two of my staff. But we continue to take care of the patients who are admitted in the support centre,” she added.
Asked how they manage to generate funds to run the support centre, Sister Veronica said they continue to provide healthcare services to people in need with the small donations given by people.
Replying to a query, she said that she also goes to the patient’s home in case of any emergency.
“I stay with the patients till their condition improves. I have attended to many minor accident cases and other treatment in the area since 2018,” Sister Veronica added.
When you’re a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours!

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