Gao Shangyuan (second from left) poses for a photo with medical workers.
After a 34-day service in the Fangcang makeshift hospital in Wuchang district, Wuhan, Sanitation worker Gao Shangyuan finally came back to Wuchang’s Youyi Avenue where he worked before, in a brown cap and orange uniform, with the same old electro-tricycle.
The 53-year-old man, who disinfected the wards and disposed waste at the hospital every day two months ago, recorded his personal experiences in combating the novel coronavirus in a diary – a habit that he has always stuck to in work.
Gao volunteered to clean the Fangcang hospital at Hongshan Statidum, Wuchang district immediately after he saw the hospital’s recruitment information on Feb. 6.
“The team leader called at 10:00 am today, telling me to assemble this afternoon and then head for the hospital,” Gao wrote in the diary.
“I’m really honored to be a volunteer at the hospital and excited to do my part in the fight against the pandemic,” he added.
Gao must be extremely cautious when disposing the waste to avoid polluting the environment outside the hospital. It took him and his team about 5 hours to clean two inpatient wards on the first day of their service.
“It became easier today, but I’m still tired,” Gao wrote, adding that the protective suit always made him sweat and his goggles were always blurred by his breath.
“My clothes were always soaked after a day was over, and it’s not exaggeration,” he said in the diary on Feb. 8, the third day of him working at the hospital, describing how hard it was to combat the virus.
He said he sometimes couldn’t stand the fatigue as he had slipped discs, diabetes, and periarthritis of the shoulders.
Gao didn’t tell his son about his work at the hospital, but the latter found out from a picture he posted on social media on Feb. 9.
“My son called today and I missed it. When I called him back, I heard him weeping,” Gao wrote on that day.
“He was worried about me, blaming me for not telling him earlier and said he also wanted to be a volunteer so that we could take care of each other.”
Gao wrote on February 11 that he made video calls every day to his son as a safety check. “I raised him alone since 2009 when my wife passed away in a car accident, and he was only ten then. We are close,” he said, referring to his son.
On Feb. 20, Gao received an award for his efforts in combating the novel coronavirus with a cash bonus of 10,000 yuan from Alibaba Group. “I just did what I should have done,” he wrote in the diary.
Gao noted that it was encouraging to receive the award on behalf of the sanitation team. “This award doesn’t belong to me as an individual, but all the members on the team,” he said.
Gao received a message on instant messenger WeChat from Wang Haixu, a medical worker from Liaoning province who went to Hubei to assistance, on March 14, when Gao completed his service and was quarantining himself at a hotel. Wang said that, ” I think we all are comrades-in-arms in this battle, both the medical and sanitation staff. We just had different duties.”
“I was surprised at it,” Gao noted, glad that his efforts were appreciated and valued.
After replying Wang, he went on with his diary. “It is such a meaningful experience fighting together with the medical workers at the hospital. I want to extend my gratefulness to them for assisting Wuhan. They are real heroes.”