Para-athletes serve COVID-19 patients at Mumbai Port Trust Hospital

This story was first published in Mumbai Mirror on 6/5/2020

Naganath Ghadge has trouble walking, but since late March he has been doing all the work for the 70,000 employees at Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT).

Deputy in the MbPT Hospital in Wadala As a social worker, Ghadge has tons of responsibilities on his shoulders. And he carries them out with the natural sports attitude.

Having represented his employers as an athletics para-athlete for years, Ghadge is focusing all his energy on the well-being of his colleagues, both known and unknown, whom he calls his 'MbPT family'.

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I am never afraid of work, work is afraid of me, he jokes, drinking tea at home after a hard day at the hospital.

From the coronavirus outbreak, you have never had time to relax. From the first stage of educating employees about COVID-19 to pacify relatives of the deceased, Ghadge has done it all.

Under normal circumstances, Ghadge would organize blood donation camps, spread family planning awareness, solve family problems, and work with Alcoholics Anonymous to serve his 'MbPT family'.

Then came extraordinary times that required extraordinary effort. Once the pandemic was declared, I started visiting the residential neighborhoods of MbPT and drove camps. My duty was to educate people about the disease and also to inform them about what to do and what not to do. I also visited the offices of education from Class I to Class IV. employees pretty much the same, said the veteran javelin thrower and thrower.

Once the general hospital became a 50-bed COVID-19 center, its role changed. Now the focus is on the patients. My work begins when they bring in a suspicious patient. From my admission until I am tested and finally receive your reports it is my responsibility. If the result is positive, then I have to locate the relatives and quarantine them, he added.

The problem arises when there is an unfortunate death. The family refuses to believe that their patient has passed away due to coronavirus. I have to pacify them, convince them before coordinating with the police and the BMC for paperwork. Each crown death is a police case and they provide assistance until the body reaches the crematorium or cemetery, Ghadge said of his expanding job profile.

While Ghadge is at work, his superior and Office Superintendent Jayant Mhatre is taking note of it.

In addition to having a similar leg disability like Ghadge, Mhatre is also a para-athlete who until a while ago represented MbPT in carrom and chess.

Due to his retirement on December 1 of this year, Mhatre had every reason to sit at home. Government guidelines exempted people with disabilities and people 55 and older from reporting to work, but we chose to work in times of crisis, said Mhatre, who claimed he had enough permits to stay home until his retirement date.

In addition to supervising administrative staff, Mhatre also has to monitor hospital arrangements and attendance for doctors, nurses, and other staff, and prepare a daily report to be sent to the MbPT president. In other words, you have to keep the hospital in order and running.

I have to prepare the staff salaries. Since not everyone shows up for work, I have to manage a lot of things as Office Superintendent, Mhatre said of his additional duties.

Mhatre and Ghadge are not the only para-athletes working despite the exemption. Waman Karpe , Ashok Daphal Sahadeo Tari and Govid Ughade are some of the other athletes who have reported working regularly.

Karpe is in the purchasing department and is responsible for storing masks, PPE, disinfectants, and medications. Daphal and Tari work shifts (including nights) at the inquiry counter. Ughade, who has undergone two angiograms and is more vulnerable to the virus, visits from time to time in the form of payment (in charge of payments to employees).

Mhatre said that the MbPT hospital has widened its umbrella for the coronavirus. Earlier, treatment was restricted to retirees and those still dependent on them. Now it's open to all. Even children who are not dependent anymore will be treated here. That's not all, even the CISF jawans deputed with MbPT and their families will be given admission and treatment. After we all are the 'MbPT family.'