As soon as the state infectious disease prevention effort was switched over to the top emergency anti-epidemic system, thousands of retired medical workers volunteered for service in the anti-epidemic campaign, said Kim Hyong Hun, vice-minister of Public Health. “They gave strength and courage to residents and health workers as well.”
Kim Chon Ho, an ex-doctor living in neighbourhood unit No. 45 of Kansong-dong, Phyongchon District, Pyongyang, hurriedly picked up his physician’s bag as he heard the news about the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
It was an old bag he had used for a long time.
His children were all surprised. But he left home, saying that when the country was faced with a grave crisis, he could not stay idle at home and that it would need his helping hand, though old.
And he directly went to the Kansong Polyclinic of Phyongchon District and asked its officials to involve him in medical examinations and treatment.
“At the time we were terribly short of medical workers. The number of patients with fever increased day by day and residents asked doctors for sick calls here and there, anxiously waiting for them. To make matters worse, doctors and nurses were infected with the virus and the remaining ones had to do the work of two to three others,” said Hwang Kum Chol, director of the Kansong Polyclinic.
At such time, Kim Chon Ho requested permission to join the medical service and it was just like a rain after the drought and as he had rich clinical experience, his request gave great encouragement to the doctors and nurses, he added.
His earnest request was granted and Old Kim was assigned a task to perform medical examination and treatment of over 60 families in two neighbourhood units.
It was difficult for an old man to make the tour of medical examinations of those families that even young people felt hard to do. But he did it more than four times a day without showing any sign of fatigue and showed great devotion to the treatment of patients.
One day, he happened to hear that many serious cases were reported in the area under a woman doctor’s charge.
After finishing his tour of medical examination, he volunteered to go to the area every day and helped the woman doctor with medical treatment of serious cases.
“His extensive clinical experience and good medical skills really helped many residents recover their health. They repeatedly thanked the old man for his sincere devotion,” said Pyon Kum Suk, a household doctor of the polyclinic.
She was impressed by his spiritual strength and self-sacrificing spirit, but did not know he was an honoured disabled soldier at the time, she noted. “Later, we came to know the fact and all health workers and residents of Kansong-dong admired him for his self-sacrificing spirit.”