PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Her clinic was a total loss after the floods hit, with water destroying an expensive X-ray machine and all the medication.
When some former patients heard about it, they offered thousands of ringgit to Dr Shalini Devi Ramachandran, who runs the clinic with her husband, Dr Yuveneswara Murti, to help get the place up and running again.
But instead of spending the money on their clinic, the couple set up a makeshift space in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, to provide free medical care in the neighbourhood, which has to date been the hardest hit by the mid-December floods in the Klang Valley in Kuala Lumpur.
Unexpected massive floods hit several states in mid-December, when the country experienced the heaviest rainfall in the past 100 years. Eight of the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia, including Selangor, Pahang and Negri Sembilan, were affected by the floods.
Having been a victim of floods herself in 1995 in that same area, Dr Shalini said she understood how it felt to be in such a position.
So the couple put aside their worries about their damaged clinic and started a temporary medical camp on Dec 25.
They were assisted by 13 non-medical volunteers from their company, Dr S and Dr Y Fitness, as well as three to four medical volunteers.
“It was tiring. We treated almost 200 patients a day when it was first opened but it was all worth it,” she said in a recent interview.
She had planned to run the makeshift space, which was open from 10am to 7pm daily, for 20 days, until Thursday (Jan 13).
“Patients were still coming even on the final day,” she said.
Dr Shalini, 34, said that shortly after the floods hit and she posted about the victims’ plight on TikTok, help came not only from within Malaysia but also from neighbouring Singapore and even as far away as Dubai.
“They helped by providing funds for the medication needed for the camp. That was how we were able to sustain the place for 20 days.”
The camp will now be converted into a donation drive through which the public can donate electrical appliances and furniture for flood victims, she said.
As for their clinic, she said: “Our clinic is a total loss. It was fully submerged in water and nothing was saved, including the X-ray machine worth over RM160,000 (S$51,558) and RM400,000 worth of medication.”
She hopes that pharmaceutical companies would consider replacing the damaged drugs to ease their burden as they were not covered by business insurance.
“We salvaged the drugs in hopes of getting them replaced. Unfortunately, only two out of 13 companies that supply the drugs to us have agreed to do so.
“The others will not even give us a refund. It would mean a lot to us if they could do that at least,” she said, adding that total losses from the clinic is about RM850,000.
She is, however, grateful to all the good Samaritans who have continuously provided funding so she could purchase life-saving medication and supplies for the camp.
Dr Shalini said they will only fix some parts of the single-storey clinic and not the entire place due to financial constraints.
Despite having to treat hundreds of patients every day during the floods, Dr Shalini said she was moved by the experience.
She was also touched when a patient came to see her saying that her efforts uplifted the patient’s spirit during these difficult times. This, she said, gave her the confidence to persevere.
“I have no regrets. Personally, the flood was a learning curve for my husband and me. Through the floods and the resulting community effort, I was able to meet a lot of good Samaritans out there who are always ready to help,” Dr Shalini said, adding that the floods could have been avoided with better infrastructure in the area.