May 12 is celebrated as Nurses Day every year. On the occasion, Kerala remembered some of her brave daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice for a cause, when they were engaged in their profession. The foremost among them are Lini, Ramya and Vineetha.
“Dear Sajeesh, I am almost on the way… I don’t think that we can meet ever again,” Lini wrote to her husband.
“I am feeling suffocated. It’s all smoke and fire here. I don’t feel that I can escape,” Ramya told her mother over phone.
Lini succumbed to Nipah after attending to a patient affected by the virus in Kozhikode in May 2018. Ramya Rajappan, another nurse was working with AMRI Hospital in Kolkata, where a fire broke out on December 9, 2011. She spoke to her mother Usha in East Mecheri, Uzhavoor moments before saving eight patients and succumbing to the inferno.
P K Vineetha, daughter of Pulikkal Kunjumon of Kothanallur worked alongside Ramya at the Kolkata hospital. The hospital fire claimed 89 lives but Ramya and Vineetha rescued eight patients under their care before becoming martyrs.
When the fire started early in the morning, the two Keralite nurses were on duty in the Women’s Ward. When she realized that there was a blaze, Ramya called her mother in Kerala and informed her of the situation. Soon, Ramya and Vineetha were part of the rescue mission. They shifted 8 of the 9 patients under their care. The ninth patient was suffering from a fracture and could not be moved easily. While helping that patient out of the fire-engulfed ward, both lost their lives.
There were allegations that even doctors had not joined the rescue mission. In such a scenario, Ramya and Vineetha were hailed as angels. They were posthumously honoured with the Presidents’ Sarvothama Jeevan Raksha Pathak and Florence Nightingale Award.
Lini, a nurse at Perambra Taluk Hospital, was desperately trying to care for a patient admitted with fever. It was only after the patient died that the cause was identified as Nipah. Meanwhile, Lini too suffered from headache and fever. When she reached Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, Lini told the doctors that she could be infected with Nipah virus and should be placed in an isolation ward.
She did not allow even her mother and sister to come near her, fearing that the disease would spread to them. When death was certain, Lini wrote for the last time to her husband in Bahrain. “I am almost on the way. I don’t think that we can meet again… sorry…Please take our sons Lavan and Kunju to Gulf. Don’t live alone like our father. With lots of love…”
In honour of Lini, the government changed the name of the award given to the best nurse as ‘Sister Lini Puthussery Award’. Moreover, Jim Campbell, Director, Health Workforce at World Health Organisation, recalled Lini’s sacrifice on Twitter.
The state government appointed Lini’s husband as a lower division clerk at District Medical Office, Kozhikode and deposited Rs 10 lakh each for the education of her two children.