Published: 11:11, 19 April 2020
| Updated: 13:34, 21 April 2020
Tributes have been paid to a "hugely regarded" occupational therapist who has died with coronavirus.
Vivek Sharma had been working for Medway Community Healthcare when he tested positive for Covid-19.
James Devine, the chief executive of Medway Foundation Trust which runs Medway Maritime Hospital where Mr Sharma also used to work, announced the death last night.
In a message to staff he said: "I am sad to announce that Vivek Sharma, a former Medway staff member, died yesterday after testing positive for Covid-19.
"I am sure many of you will remember Vivek who worked with us as an occupational therapist from August 2015 until March 2017.
"He was also a staff governor during his time here and I know was highly regarded by all who knew him.
"Those who knew Vivek at Medway describe him as a 'gentle soul'.
"Vivek was working at Medway Community Healthcare at the time of his death and I am sure you will join me in sending your condolences to our MCH colleagues who have lost a valued friend.
"Our thoughts are with Vivek's family and friends and all his colleagues both at Medway and MCH at this very sad time."
Other medical staff were quick to add their own tributes.
Zena Evans said: "So sad. I remember Vivek from my time working at MFT. He was always so lovely to everyone. My thoughts are with his family."
And Lesley Dwyer, the hospital's former chief executive officer, said: "I am so sorry to hear that. I remember Vivek well. How sad."
"A truly caring dedicated gentle man."
Amanda Gibson added: "I worked many years with Vivek. He was a truly caring dedicated gentle man. Condolences to his family, colleagues and friends."
Louise Smith said: "This is such sad news. Vivek was a lovely caring gent and a pleasure to work with."
Vivek spoke five languages: Punjabi, Gujurati, Sindi, Urdu and Hindi.
While an MFT governor the father-of-two began visiting temples, gurdwaras and mosques in the Medway Towns to ensure MFT services were accessible to as many as possible.
He also chaired a forum for black, Asian and minority ethnic members of staff while at the hospital. He said at the time: "I want to ensure that they feel that this is their hospital and one then can be proud of.”
Mr Sharma had been at home 'shielding' from coronavirus when he was diagnosed.
A spokesman for Medway Community Healthcare said on Sunday: “We are sad to announce that Vivek Sharma, our clinical falls lead, died on Friday.
"He had been isolating as a vulnerable member of staff due to underlying health conditions, and became ill with Coronavirus (COVID-19).
"Vivek was married with two sons, one due to marry this year.
"He was a valued member of MCH staff and an occupational therapist by background. He most recently worked in the falls team at the Walter Brice Centre rehabilitation centre in Hoo.
"He was a member of EMF (our employee forum), passionate about being a voice and advocate for staff and always happy to help."
She added: "Our thoughts are with Vivek’s family and friends, with his immediate team, with those who worked closely with him and with anyone who met and knew him.”
Mr Sharma graduated from India's National Institute for Persons with Physical Disabilities, formerly known as Institute for Physically Handicapped, in 1984. His teacher and mentor Dr Veena Slaich said he was a kind, supportive and hard-working student.
The All India Occupational Therapists Association has also added its tribute.
President Dr Anil Srivastava said: "We are saddened to know of the sad demise of Dr Vivek Sharma. We all will miss him and are deeply saddened by losing him from our lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family."
A total of 331 have so far died with coronavirus in Kent.