When healthcare workers are batting the COVID-19 pandemic despite lacking basic protective equipment even in cities, a 30-year-old doctor breathed his last on April 15 after treating the people of a tribal hamlet on the foothills of the Western Ghats.
V. Jayamohan had been working as a doctor at a primary health centre in Thengumarahada for the past four years. Recently, he caught cold and fever. However, he continued to treat patients at the hospital with utmost care and affection, local people said.
Thengumarahada comes under Erode district shares border with Coimbatore and The Nilgiris districts. These three districts have many positive COVID-19 cases and some people from Kerala have even migrated to Thengumarahada and Nilgiris through Wayanad.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Jayamohan began wearing a mask and maintained some distance from patients. But this caused a furore in the village. Despite Jayamohan trying to explain to the villagers about the disease, some of them picketed the hospital and had an argument with him.
Besides the physical illness, this caused him mental agony, says Devaraj, Jayamohan’s colleague and a resident of the hamlet. Since April 11, he had a very high fever and was admitted to the government hospital in Mettupalayam.
Later, he was shifted to a private hospital in Coimbatore, where doctors diagnosed him with dengue. Jayamohan died at 1:30 am on April 15. Though he tested negative for COVID-19, he suffered from dengue and scrub typhus, says a doctor and a friend of Jayamohan.
“He used to encourage all his colleagues at the hospital. It is unfortunate that a passionate doctor like him died at a young age,” he says.
A native of Sirumugai in Coimbatore district, Jayamohan scored 1,179 in Class 12 board exams and ranked third in Tamil Nadu. After applying for re-evaluation, he secured the first rank the state. “During media interviews, Jayamohan said he would become a doctor and serve the poor,” says Vasudevan, his father.
He did keep his promise. After graduating from the Madras Medical College, he chose to serve the tribals in Thengumarahada, says Vasudevan. For the last few months, he had been staying in the hospital quarters and used to travel on a coracle, whenever he received a call.
Jayamohan was interested in wildlife conservation. “He actively took part in many vulture awareness campaigns,” says Bharathidasan, founder of Arulagam, an organisation working for vulture conservation.
“He was preparing for NEET to pursue higher studies. We were planning to get him married. But all the dreams have been shattered,” says Vasudevan.