A lifetime mission spurred by selfless dedication
The villages on Jidiao Island, Chengtou town, Fuqing city, in East China's Fujian province are linked by twisting roads revealing spectacular views of bays and coves by the coast with densely built stone houses. A small two-story building shelters deeply in the greenery with the bold glare of Chinese characters for clinic on an eye-catching signboard. This is Wang Jinping's home.
For 34 years, Wang has been the only village doctor on this small island, providing medical services to the villagers. On Aug 19, the third Chinese Physician's Day, Wang Jinping won the honor of "Most Beautiful Doctor in 2020".
Merely 0.74 square kilometers in area, this small island is like a drop in the bucket compared with the vast continent. Over the years, many islanders have chosen to leave the island to go ashore, living a different kind of life. There are more than 400 permanent residents, and nearly half of them are senior citizens over 65 years old. If they feel unwell, they will seek help from Wang as soon as possible. Due to their living habits, most elderly people on the island prefer to live alone, and 95-year-old Wang Xuemei is one of them. She suffers from a variety of chronic diseases, and Wang is very concerned about her conditions."I have to visit these elderly people living alone every 10 days," she says.
Due to the COVID-19, she continued to serve the villagers while carrying out epidemic prevention and control. In addition to the white coat, hats and poles are also Wang Jinping's daily "standard equipment". Be it daily necessities, anti-epidemic supplies, or the medicines needed by the villagers, they rely on her to bring them home from the dock, and sometimes she can carry 50-kilogram loads of goods. Recently, she picked up a newly bought computer on her shoulder. She is now trying every means to open up medical insurance payment for the villagers.
Wang recalls that when she was a child, there were one or two village doctors in the village, but due to the island's poor conditions, they both left soon after they came. The lack of medical care and medicine is a deep childhood memory for her on the island. When she was sick, the villagers went up the mountain to collect some herbs. Often their mild illnesses are developed into severe symptoms as they are reluctant to see the doctors in time, and they missed the best time for treatment.
"I have survived those difficult days," she says. In 1986, Wang, who had just returned to the island, had moved several times for the clinic. Later, she simply renovated her small house to free up the first floor as the consulting room, and the whole family were crammed on the second floor. When a patient knocked on the door at night, the whole family would be awakened.
The bad weather on the island is often a huge test for her as there is no safe haven on the island. Once there was a typhoon, and a fisherman in the village was worried that the boat would be blown away. He rushed to the dock to check in the wind and rain. He accidentally knocked his head on the road and bled a lot. In desperation, he knocked on Wang's door. Wang, who served the villagers 24 hours a day, opened the door without hesitation. The strong wind filled the house instantly and went straight to the second floor and overturned the roof. The youngest son's cry for help came upstairs, and she did not complain at all in the face of adversities.
In the early years, the island had inconvenient transportation. Wang was also responsible for delivering women's births. She had welcomed more than 200 children. The experience of successfully rescuing a pregnant woman with postpartum hemorrhage more than 20 years ago has left her lingering fears. In 1991, Wang, who was still in confinement after childbirth, insisted on delivering five babies for the villagers. Cold and weak, she went out with a blanket. But she believes that as long as the mother and child are safe, it is all that counts.
Today, the old school on the island is abandoned and will be turned into a homestay. The villagers hope for a new future."If you don't practice anymore, we can only die on the island." Wang was once struck by these words of an old man in the village. They are all aged, and she tries her best to melt all their worries and loneliness with her help. At times when you are alone and quiet, you find yourself missing the warmth of the disappeared cacophony.
Wang Jinping disinfects and bandages a village fisherman whose fingers are injured. PAN SONGGANG/FOR CHINA DAILY
Several villagers come to Wang's house to help her prepare fresh fish for her meal. PAN SONGGANG/FOR CHINA DAILY