Lu Shengmei: No retirement age for attending to patients

Updated: 2022-10-28

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Lu Shengmei is a member of the Communist Party of China and has been working as a doctor in the remote county of Northwest China's Shaanxi province for more than 50 years. [Photo/]

In China' campaign to send educated youth to the countryside and improve medical care in rural areas, Lu Shengmei, born in Beijing in January 1944, arrived at the remote Jiaxian county in Northwest China's Shaanxi province in December 1968 and started as a doctor.

At that time, life was very difficult in this mountainous region. Locals slept on an adobe "kang"  – a heatable sleeping platform, and used water from the murky Yellow River. She also struggled to adapt to local food. In her early years in the county, she worked at the people's hospital in Jiaxian and participated in collective labor of farming and repairing roads. She said that she cried many times as a result of the hard life but she never flinched from the mission.

Basic medical service barely existed then and the mortality rate of neonatal tetanus was almost 100 percent, as household devices not properly sanitized were widely used to cut umbilical cord.Lu had made every effort to change that. Gradually, she won the respect and trust of more people, and a sense of fulfillment encouraged her to stay and help the vulnerable people in this underdeveloped area.

While in the area, she also met her husband, Gao Zhengsheng, also a doctor at the hospital and a man of kindness and integrity.

Having been offered many chances to be transferred back to Beijing, Lu has declined them all and decided to stay in the region with the people she has become attached to.

In 1984, she became a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), 23 years after submitting her first application letter.

In December 1999, Lu retired from her post as deputy director of the hospital. But she has a firm belief that "as a CPC member, there is no retirement age for working for the Party, and a doctor should never stop attending to patients.”

With this conviction, she offers free clinics on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the hospital. In the 23 years since her retirement, Lu has provided more than 100,000 voluntary consultations to patients. In 2020, the 76-year-old also volunteered to work on the frontline against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lu has won many distinguished honors, such as the national outstanding CPC member and the March 8th Red-banner Pacesetter, in recognition of her commitment to patient care.

"I'm just like a kite, wherever I go, if a patient pulls the string, I will go back to them," she said. 

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