CẦN THƠ — Whenever they need medical advice, people in Trà An Ward, Bình Thủy District in the southern city of Cần Thơ, seek out Hoàng Khắc Hiến, a retired doctor who still volunteers in public health.
At the age of 67, despite suffering diabetes, Hiến volunteered to work in Trà An Ward’s mobile medical station, joining local COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.
Hiến is now the oldest and the only retired volunteer working at the ward’s Mobile Medical Station.
Hiến said that seeing the fourth wave of the pandemic heavily hitting localities in Việt Nam, particularly his neighbourhood, meant he could not hesitate to participate in COVID-19 prevention and control, responding to the call of the local government.
Hiến has been participating in all local medical volunteering activities, from vaccination and periodic testing to drug distribution and management of confirmed COVID-19 cases and suspected cases who take home treatment and quarantine.
Currently, the Residential Group 2 of Trà An Ward has about 20 COVID-19 confirmed cases being treated at home and over 30 suspected cases undergoing home-based medical isolation.
Hiến and other medical workers often have to work continuously from morning to afternoon until all the COVID-19 patients and suspected cases receive proper care. When other areas in the ward are understaffed, he volunteers to help.
He regularly visits and provides medical examinations for the elderly in the area he is in charge of.
“Regular medical check-ups can partly reduce pressure on the upper level as well as reduce risks for the elderly,” he said.
Besides voluntary work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the retired doctor is still devoted and attached to the work of taking care of people’s health that he has been doing for so long.
In 1976, Hiến started working as a nurse of the People’s Armed Police (now known as the Border Guard) in HCM City.
In 1979, in order to develop his medical career, he attended medical courses at Military Region 9, then worked as the chief of the school’s infirmary. In 1991, he retired due to a policy on downsizing the medical force.
Retired early when he still had many ambitions for the profession, Hiến decided not to give up but continued to stick with the medical profession in a different way.
For the last 30 years, he has voluntarily participated for a local healthcare team that offers medical examination and treatment for people in Trà Nóc Ward, and a similar team in Trà An Ward.
He opened a clinic at his house, which is known and trusted by many people in the neighbourhood. People visit Hiến’s clinic as a prestigious place for medical examination and treatment.
“Enthusiastic but always keeping a calm mind” is how many people describe Hiến.
Hiến said that what he is doing “is not special and anyone can do it.”
“In the current context, grassroots levels usually faces a shortage of medical staff. Seeing medical workers working hard to detect infections, support COVID-19 patients and those in quarantine areas, I really want to support them,” Hiến said, adding that compared to those frontline forces, his work is much easier.
Hiến said that he was well aware of the risks he may face during his medical volunteering as he is old and diabetic. However, he said that “if you are afraid, you will never be able to do anything.”
“Not being afraid does not mean being reckless,” the military medic said.
What keeps him calm in the face of danger is a serious and disciplined attitude to his own health. In particular, implementing 5K, and avoiding large gatherings are simple principles that must be placed above all.
Hiến always tries to comply with medical safety instructions during operations. After having close contact with COVID-19 infected patients, he always conducts self-testing and health monitoring.
Hiến’s wife Nguyễn Thị Sáu said that she was worried to see him dedicated to work day and night.
“However, having worked with him for many years, I understand the passion and ambition he carries,” she said.“I can only support him as much as possible with the work he is doing.”
Trần Văn Thành, head of Residential Group 2 in Trà An Ward, said that at this time the ward’s medical force was usually overloaded.
“Support of volunteers, particularly retired doctors like Hiến, is very meaningful and timely,” Thành said.
Hiến works enthusiastically and actively, Thành said, adding that the retired doctor was still as quick as young health workers.
Hiến said he had no other wish but to be able to continue to devote to joint efforts in COVID-19 prevention and control.
“As long as I am healthy, I will still work,” he said. — VNS