Last Updated: September 20, 2023, 15:37 IST
Renowned English reformist and founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale may have passed may more than a century back but for the ill and pregnant women of the Sri Lankan refugee camp in a rural part of the Srivilliputhur area of Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu, she lives on in form of a 50-year old woman. K Suganthi is considered no less than an angel in disguise for anaemic pregnant mothers in need of medical care, whose lives she has been saving for the last 26 years.
Little did K Suganthi, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM), know when she began her profession in 1996 that the President of India would present her with the Florence Nightingale Award in 2023. Suganthi’s family relocated to Virudhunagar when she was in Class 6 after being born in the Thoothukudi district.
Suganthi, who obtained her nursing qualification, was hired as an ANM in a village near Karur. Her experience as an ANM in the Perumalthevanpatti health sub-centre continued when she was transferred to Reddiapatti in 1997.
She has been working in Perumal Devan Patti, Narikuruvar Kalani and the Sri Lankan Refugee Camp area under Reddiapatti Primary Health Center for the past 26 years. The areas she serves are normally considered very backward, populated by tribals who do not interact much with or trust outsiders easily. But with her warmth and caring nature, Suganthi has, over the years, won them over. When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with a high-risk ailment, Suganthi stays at her side throughout her hospital stay and recovery.
Suganthi assisted about 25 Narikurava families during the COVID pandemic by giving them grains in addition to caring for expectant moms. Suganthi’s persistent oversight, according to Block Medical Officer Dr. Karunagaraprabhu, has ensured that every child in the hamlet has received their immunisations.
Two and a half decades of selfless hard work won her recognition this year after she was awarded the Florence Nightingale Award by the President of India.