In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Kilpauk Medical College’s alumni association has come forward to lend its support to the medical interns who are on COVID-19 duty.

The college has around 110 house surgeons, each of whom has been assigned an alumnus. The association has created a WhatsApp group for the purpose. “At the end of the day we know what is happening in KMC,” said K. Prasad Manne, the association secretary.

The alumni and the interns share mutual respect and are in awe of each other. While the seniors are amazed by the youngsters’ commitment, the juniors are grateful that veterans in the profession take time to talk to them.

Salem-based gynaecologist S.Vijayakumari said the student she was mentoring was a first generation doctor whom she encouraged to pursue post-graduation. Premnath Chinnaiyan, a US-based paediatrician, said he relived his internship days through the exercise. He discussed postings and plans after internship with his mentee.

“It reminded me of my KMC internship days which were very busy with long hours but was definitely enjoyable and an experience I cherish,” he said.

Maj. Gen. R.Ravikumar, Additional Director General Medical Services (Health), in the Central government is impressed at the enthusiasm and motivation of the intern he was assigned. “He knew most of the treatment protocol in COVID-19 cases. I am told they are strictly following the protocols of using PPEs,” he added.

Villupuram-based paediatrician P.K. Palaniraj felt the nature of the pandemic and the media hype had necessitated their intervention. He has been assigned a student from another State, whose room mate turned positive.

“We are seniors and have not gone through this pandemic. Seeing people die and media hype can be traumatic. Morally we have to support them, give encouragement. They are in the battlefield. If they want anything we can provide it. An extra pair of masks will give them that much confidence. They are frontline warriors, it is a fantastic thing the alumni is doing,” he said.

The interns were worried when they were roped in for COVID-19 duty. Many were scared and some did not tell their families. But now almost all of them have completed at least a week in COVID ward.

K. Maniesh Kumar has done two rounds already. “The thing is all patients are COVID-19 positive. I was a bit scared but the PG and assistants are doing duty. I am from Chennai but I have not seen my parents for three-four months,” he said.

His father is a doctor his brother also has the same ambition. The duty has taught him more about the disease. “I am extra conscious about sanitising my hands,” he said. He said his mentor had given him confidence.

His batchmate S. Rakshaa Vigneshwari, is in isolation at home after completing a week in COVID ward. “It got very scary when some of my friends turned positive. My parents were scared but they wanted me to become a doctor. I have been assigned a senior doctor from the 2006 batch. It is good to have someone to talk to who is not our teacher or boss. It is so nice of them to give us their time. They are so busy and have patients to take care,” she said.

It was traumatising for S.P. Sakthivignesh to work in the ICU ward. “The patient’s attendant would be waiting outside and we were helpless. I am used to it now. I spoke to my mentor twice. My parents were worried about my safety,” he said. His father is a lab technician and mother a school teacher.

Initially C.V. Harini’s family was against her doing COVID duty. “I was hesitant but someone has to do it in the end. My father was very afraid as they did not know what to expect. I am the first generation doctor in my entire extended family. They are not aware of what happens inside the ward,” said Harini who hails from a village near Pudukottai.

Her mentor is a psychiatrist with whom she had spoken a couple of times. “She had so much patience talking to me. She caught up with me through WhatsApp and asked for a comfortable time to talk to me,” said Harini who returned for work on Tuesday.

The alumni association has so far provided 2,000 N 95 masks and 10 oximeter to the students. The effort would continue till the pandemic ends, said Dr. Prasad.

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